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An evergreen tree up to 80 ft high in the wild state, with a trunk 8 ft in girth; bark of large trees smooth and brownish purple, ultimately scaling off in large flakes. Leaves opposite, thick and leathery, varying in shape from roundish ovate to lanceolate, pointed, tapered at the base, 1 to 3 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. wide, dark green, glabrous and glossy, with numerous veins running lengthwise. Male flowers in axillary, cylindrical, sometimes branched spikes 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, 1⁄6 in. wide. Females solitary or in pairs, developing a globose fruit about 1⁄2 in. wide, covered with plum-like bloom.
Native of Southern Japan, Formosa, and China; introduced by Siebold to Ghent in 1830. Both Sargent and Wilson write enthusiastically of its beauty in Japan; the latter describes it as ‘one of the most strikingly beautiful of all evergreen trees’. It has long been cultivated in the Temperate House at Kew, but is only likely to be hardy out-of-doors in the very mildest parts of our islands. It used to be grown in the open air at Pencarrow in Cornwall. This podocarpus is distinct from all those here mentioned in the wideness of its leaves as compared with their length. The Dutch traveller Kaempfer mistook it for a species of bay-laurel, and called it Laurus juliflora or the catkin-bearing laurel.
Myrica nagi Thunb.; Nageia nagi (Thunb.) O. Kuntze; Nageia japonic a Gaertn.; Decussocarpus nagi (Thunb.) de Laubenfels
The generic name Nageia Gaertn. (1788) has priority over Podocarpus L’Hérit. ex Pers. (1807). But the latter, being so widely used in botanical literature, was placed on a list of conserved generic names in 1906. However, the rules of botanical nomenclature expressly state that in such cases the earlier name is not thereby invalidated, and becomes available for use if the genus with the conserved name is split into two or more genera. The type-species of Podocarpus is the South African yellow wood P. elongatus. If the group containing the type of P. nagi is removed into a separate genus it would take the name Nageia.