Tree 15–20 m tall, usually smaller, on a short trunk to 0.4 m dbh. Bark fibrous, flaky and exfoliating on old stems, reddish brown to dark brown. Branchlets spreading with leaves sparsely set. Terminal buds on leading shoots 6–14 × 3–4 mm, narrowly conical, outer scales acuminate with free tips. Leaves of young plants linear-lanceolate, straight or slightly curved, 15–22 × 1.2–1.7 cm; leaves of adult plants elliptic (shorter leaves) to lanceolate (longer leaves), (4–)6–15 × 0.5–1.1 cm, sparsely set on shoots, apex acute, margins flat, abruptly tapering to a petiolate base; midrib acutely raised above, obtuse below, stomata inconspicuous beneath. Pollen cones solitary or rarely in pairs, short pedunculate, c. 30–45 × 3–4 mm at anthesis. Seed cones 8–11 mm long, borne on short peduncles (2–4 mm), axillary, subtended by a single bract c. 3 mm long, formed of an axis with two unequal bracts swelling, orange at first, later red, succulent. (Farjon 2017).
Distribution Indonesia West New Guinea Papua New Guinea
Habitat A canopy tree in montane to sub-alpine forest, often dominated by Castanopsis and Nothofagus spp., (1700–)2200–2900 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 9
RHS Hardiness Rating H3
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Represented in our area at Tregrehan (Cornwall, UK) from material sourced from near the upper limit of its altitudinal range, these plants have survived a few degrees of frost but require excellent shelter. Tom Hudson notes that ‘It promises to be an attractive tree with larger needles than P. brassii’ (Smith & Hudson 2017) but it seems unlikely to have much potential beyond the very mildest gardens in our area, and even here it is at the mercy of early frosts and cold winters; at Tregrehan it is killed outright by temperatures lower than –5°C. In spring 2023 the Tregrehan material was ‘back at the glasshouse stage’ after a cold winter (T. Hudson pers. comm. 2023).