Prumnopitys taxifolia

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Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Gymnosperms
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Araucariales
Family: Podocarpaceae
Genus: Prumnopitys
P. taxifolia
Binomial name
Prumnopitys taxifolia
(Banks & Sol. ex D. Don) de Laub.

Prumnopitys taxifolia, the mataī (Māori: mataī) or black pine, is an endemic New Zealand coniferous tree that grows on the North Island and South Island. It also occurs on Stewart Island/Rakiura (47 °S) but is uncommon there.[2]

It grows up to 40 m high, with a trunk up to 2 m diameter. The leaves are linear to sickle-shaped, 10–15 mm long and 1.5–2 mm broad. The seed cones are highly modified, reduced to a central stem 3–4 cm long bearing 1-6 scales, each scale maturing berry-like, 10–15 mm long, violet-purple with a soft edible pulp covering the single seed. The seeds are dispersed by the New Zealand pigeon (kererū), which eats the 'berries' and passes the seeds in its droppings.


The scientific name taxifolia derives from the resemblance of the leaves to those of the yew (Taxus). In the past the species, like the other species of Prumnopitys, was often included in Podocarpus; in this species under the name Podocarpus spicatus. It is distinguished from Prumnopitys ferruginea (miro) by the shorter, more slender leaves and the globose violet-purple cones.

Juvenile state[edit]

A juvenile mataī is a tangle of divaricating branchlets with occasional brown, pale yellow, or dirty white leaves.

Unlike the related miro (Prumnopitys ferruginea), mataī has a distinctive and long-lasting juvenile stage. The juvenile is a shrub with a tangle of slender, flexible, divaricating branchlets interspersed with a scattering of brown, pale yellow, or dirty white leaves. After a number of years, the adult tree begins to grow out of the top of the juvenile shrub and then the divaricating branchlets will wither and drop off.[3][4]


Mataī are the host plant for caterpillars of the New Zealand endemic moth species Pyrgotis zygiana.[5] The seeds of this tree also play host to another endemic moth, Heterocrossa iophaea.[6][7]


The adult leaves of the mataī are dark green, somewhat glaucous above, glaucous below, and linear to sickle-shaped.

The timber of this tree was used extensively in New Zealand for flooring during the mid-20th century. Mataī is not threatened,[8] although as a forest-type it has been greatly reduced through widespread logging. Very few intact examples of mataī-dominated forest remain.


  1. ^ Farjon, A. (2013). "Prumnopitys taxifolia". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2013: e.T42541A2986139. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T42541A2986139.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ Eagle, Audrey (2008). Eagle's complete trees and shrubs of New Zealand volume one. Wellington: Te Papa Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780909010089.
  3. ^ "Prumnopitys taxifolia | New Zealand Plant Conservation Network". Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Prumnopitys taxifolia (mataī) description". Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  5. ^ Dugdale, J. S. (1996). "Chrysorthenches new genus, conifer‐associated plutellid moths (Yponomeutoidea, Lepidoptera) in New Zealand and Australia". New Zealand Journal of Zoology. 23 (1): 57. doi:10.1080/03014223.1996.9518064.
  6. ^ Burrows, Colin (1994). "Germinating mataī seeds : an inadvertent experiment" (PDF). Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  7. ^ Sullivan, Jon J.; Burrows, Colin J.; Dugdale, John S. (September 1995). "Insect predation of seeds of native New Zealand woody plants in some central South Island localities". New Zealand Journal of Botany. 33 (3): 355–364. doi:10.1080/0028825X.1995.10412962.
  8. ^ IUCN (2011). "Prumnopitys taxifolia: Farjon, A." IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2011. doi:10.2305/

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