New Caledonia retrophyllum (Retrophyllum minus)

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New Caledonia retrophyllum habitat
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New Caledonia retrophyllum fact file

New Caledonia retrophyllum description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassConiferopsida
OrderConiferales
FamilyPodocarpaceae
GenusRetrophyllum (1)

This relatively small conifer is found in and around water. The convoluted trunk is dark in colour and heavily fissured, and the small leaves are green. Seeds are borne singly, hanging from the twig and surrounded by a rounded, fleshy seed coat, rather than in cones (3).

Also known as
New Caledonia retrophyllum.
Synonyms
Decussocarpus minor.
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New Caledonia retrophyllum biology

Very little is known about the biology of this tree but presumably, as with the other members of the podocarp family, animals attracted to the fleshy outer covering disperse the seeds. Germination occurs in wet mud and a strong taproot is rapidly grown to anchor the young plant to the soil; so that periodic floods will not sweep it away (3). These trees are probably finely tuned to the seasonal fluctuations of water in the streams and lakes of their natural habitat. Cultivation has so far only succeeded from cuttings (3).

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New Caledonia retrophyllum range

Retrophyllum minus is endemic to the small South Pacific island of New Caledonia (1). Today the species has an extremely restricted range being found only on the Plaine des Lacs (1).

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New Caledonia retrophyllum habitat

Inhabits riverbanks and lakeshores; Retrophyllum minus is known as a 'rheophyte' because of this association (1).

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New Caledonia retrophyllum status

Classified as Endangered (EN - C1+2a) on the IUCN Red List 2002 (1).

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New Caledonia retrophyllum threats

This species has suffered from habitat loss on the island of New Caledonia, for mining extraction and recreational activities (1). In the dry season, bush fires threaten the small remaining population (2). Changes in the water regimes of the small rivers in the area (there is already a large dam project realised) are likely to be detrimental to the survival of this unusual tree (3).

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New Caledonia retrophyllum conservation

Retrophyllum minus receives nominal protection within the Chûtes de la Madeline Reserve (2).

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Authentication

Authenticated (20/3/03) by Dr Aljos Farjon, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2003)
    http://www.redlist.org
  2. Farjon, A. (March, 2003) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Pers. comm.
  3. Farjon, A. & Page, C. (1999) Conifers: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Conifer Specialist Group.
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Image credit

New Caledonia retrophyllum habitat  
New Caledonia retrophyllum habitat

© Dr Aljos Farjon

Dr Aljos Farjon
Taxonomist of Gymnosperms
Chair, IUCN Conifer Specialist Group
Honorary Research Associate
Herbarium, Library, Art & Archives
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Richmond, Surrey
TW9 3AB
United Kingdom

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