The ‘Plum Pine’
Podocarpus are related to conifers with the tropical species Podocarpus elatus or ‘Plum Pine’ probably the best known of the Australian species. The fleshy fruit is used as a bush food hence the common name of ‘Plum Pine’..
With a few other common names including the Illawarra plum and ‘Daalgaal’. Podocarpus elatus is a tall evergreen tree found along the edges of streams and in other damp areas of the low foothill of coastal ranges in Northern NSW and QLD.
The purple ‘plums’ ripen in autumn and need to be collected before they fall. If you are considering growing these for fruit remember that Podocarpus elatus have both male and female forms, so you will need both for fruit production.
Used as a shade tree where mature specimens can reach over 10m in height and form a broad spreading canopy. In cultivation height is generally less. The plums are best eaten cooked, the seeds are inedible.
A humus rich deep soil and a sub tropical to warm temperate climate is required for successful cultivation. Podocarpus elatus will grow well close to the coast however they do prefer a little humidity. Growth rate is fast, with newly planted tree adding 2m a year in good conditions. As trees mature growth tends to slow and plants will form a broader crown.
This a plant that takes well to pruning and can be used as a fruiting hedge. Propagation is from seed or from cuttings taken in late winter.
Other Podocarpus species
- Podocarpus alpinus is a Tasmanian species, low growing, hardy, tolerant of some shade.
- Podocarpus lawrencei is also from Tasmania, but found in Victoria and NSW as well, a medium to large low growing shrub in one form, and a tree in another form, so make sure you are getting the right form.
Podocarpus nivalis, podocarpus salignus and podocarpus macrophyllus are lower growing and can be used as ground cover plants or small shrubs.
Available for sale from the following growers
146 Dignams Crk Rd via Narooma NSW 2546
Tubestock - [50mm forestry tubes and 70mm supertubes] specializing in Bush Tucker Plants , Natives indigenous to the NSW South Coast , Permaculture Plants - Fruits, Nuts & Berries .