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AFROCARPUS gracilior

Image of Afrocarpus gracilior

Carol Cloud Bailey

Family

Podocarpaceae

Botanical Name

AFROCARPUS gracilior

Plant Common Name

East African Yellowwood, Fern Pine

General Description

The graceful form of fern pine is accented by the linear, bluish green leaves that project from the branches much like the leaves of a lily. This tall, tender evergreen tree is native to higher elevations of subtropical eastern Africa. Unlike other conifers such as junipers, that have scale-like needles, fern pine leaves are smooth, flat and narrow, arranged spirally around gently pendent branches. Plants are dioecious, being either male or female. Male plants produce small, tan, finger-like cones in abundance among the leaves, releasing powdery pollen. Female plants produce fruit-like, yellow or green “scales” that are thinly fleshed and covered in a bluish film. The seeds are a favorite food for birds, and in their native range, monkeys.

Plant fern pine in full sun to bright partial shade in a fertile, acidic, well-drained soil. Best growth occurs in moist soils, but the tree possess a moderate tolerance to both drought and salt spray when established. It does not fare well with oppressive heat or humidity, as in desert or lowland tropical areas, but it performs very well in warm, moist subtropical areas with mild winters. In frost-free regions, it can be used as a small street tree, accent, screening hedge, or in a large container. Indoors it can only be grown in a conservatory or atrium because of its size. It yields a fine timber wood.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    20'-90' / 6.1m - 27.4m

  • Width

    20'-40' / 6.1m - 12.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring

  • Native To

    Eastern Africa, Middle Africa

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Light Green, Tan

  • Fruit Color

    Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Blue Green

  • Bark Color

    Orange, Sandy Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Exfoliating

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Hedges, Screening / Wind Break, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No