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Tree 5–15(–30) m, 1(–2.5) m dbh. Trunk straight. Bark thin, greyish brown to dark brown, fibrous, often grooved. Branches spreading to ascending, branchlets ribbed. Leaves alternate or whorled, somewhat crowded at tips of branchlets, 6–18 0.5–1.6 cm, linear-lanceolate to oblong, acute or obtuse at apex, glossy dark green above, paler below, but flushing yellowish green. Male strobili 3–5 0.4–0.5 cm, sessile, usually four in an axillary cluster. Female strobili solitary, axillary on thick peduncles 3–10 mm long, the receptacle 15–25 mm long, fleshy, black or purple with a waxy bloom when mature, seed greenish, 14–22 12–15 mm. Elliot & Jones 1997, Hill 1998. Distribution AUSTRALIA: New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland. Habitat Coastal and subcoastal rain forests, often near water. USDA Hardiness Zone 9–10. Conservation status Lower Risk. Illustration Hill 1998; NT641. Cross-reference K255.
In cultivation in Australia Podocarpus elatus requires well-drained acidic soil in a semi-shaded to sunny site (Elliot & Jones 1997). Elliot & Jones also note that the edible receptacles have an extremely high vitamin C content, although the flavour is rather resinous. The species is rare in cultivation outdoors in our area but a few trees have been located. A surprise is one individual at the University of Oxford’s Harcourt Ar boretum, Nuneham Courtenay, Oxfordshire, of about 2.5 m in 2007. An ex-greenhouse specimen, it was planted out in 2005 and has experienced –9 ºC without significant damage (P. Newth, pers. comm. 2007). At Tregrehan it grows slowly but steadily, and has reached 1.5 m in about 10 years. There it gets browned by frost at approximately –6 ºC (T. Hudson, pers. comm. 2007). Tom Hudson is also growing the Australian P. drouynianus and the New Guinean P. brassii outdoors, both of which are currently about 1 m tall.