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a genus of coniferous plants of the family Podocarpaceae (Taxaceae). The plants are dioecious (very rarely monoecious) evergreen trees or shrubs. The alternate or, less frequently, opposite leaves vary in size and shape. They range from scalelike forms measuring about 2 mm long to acicular, linear, lanceolate, elliptic, and ovate forms reaching 25–30 cm in length and 5 cm in width. Thus, many bear little resemblance to the leaves of conifers. The cylindrical male spikelets, or micro-strobiles, are solitary or in bunches (rarely in spikes) and consist of numerous microsporophylls bearing two sporangia each. The female spikelets, or megastrobiles, are solitary (rarely in spikes) and consist of one or, less frequently, two seed embryos surrounded by modified scales (epimacium) and attached to the axil by a fertile sheathing scale. In many species the bases of the fertile and the one or two sterile scales fuse together with the strobile axis; they then become fleshy and form a thickened stem that supports the seeds. The seeds are nutlike or drupaceous, measure 0.6–3.5 cm long, and are frequently colored.
There are more than 100 species of Podocarpus, found mainly in mountain forests of the tropical and subtropical belts of the southern hemisphere. Only a few species are found north of the equator, reaching the West Indies in the western hemisphere and the Himalayas, China, and Japan in Asia. Some species are valued for their wood. Several species are cultivated; in the USSR they are found on the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus and along the southern coast of the Crimea. The genus Podocarpus contains the only parasitic coniferous plant, P. ustus, which attacks a woody plant of the same family—Falcatifolium, or Dacrydium, taxoides.
REFERENCESDerev’ia i kustarniki SSSR, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
Gray, N. E. “A Taxonomic Revision of Podocarpus.”
Journal of the Arnold Arboretum. Harvard University, 1962, vol. 43, no. 1.
Pilger, R. “Podocarpaceae.” In Die natiirlichen Pflanzenfamilien, vol. 13, 2nd ed. Edited by A. Engler. Leipzig, 1926.
V. N. GLADKOVA