Prumnopitys andina (Lleuque), the Chilean plum yew British Forestry Research on P. andina, is an evergreen coniferous tree native to south-central Chile and a few areas in adjacent parts of westernmost Argentina from 36 to 40 South latitude. It lives on moderately wet soils preferable on Andean slopes from 500-1100 meters (1600-3500 ft).
It grows up to 30 m (100 ft) high, with a trunk up to 2 m diameter (6.5 ft). The leaves are linear to sickle-shaped, 15-30 mm long and 2 mm broad. The seed cones are highly modified, reduced to a central stem 2-4 cm long bearing 1-4 scales, each scale maturing berry-like, oval, 10-15 mm long and 10 mm broad, green maturing dark purple, with a soft edible pulp covering the single seed. The seeds are dispersed by birds, which eat the 'berries' and pass the seeds in their droppings. Seeds are very difficult to germinate. Straight and cylindrical trunk. Gray and shine bark.
Before the genus Prumnopitys was distinguished, it was treated in the related genus Podocarpus as Podocarpus andinus. It has also been treated by some botanists as Prumnopitys spicata (Molloy & Munoz-Schick 1999); however this name is illegitimate (Mill & Quinn 2001). Prumnopitys elegans (Phil) is a synonym for Prumnopitys andina.
The fruit (an Aril) are tasty, 1.5 (0.6 in) long, blue-purple color and are eaten by Native American people in Chile, and a marmalade is produced with them. The tree is also occasionally grown as an ornamental tree and a hedge in oceanic climate areas in northwest Europe and the Pacific Northwest of North America. In these areas, it is also sometimes known as "Plum-yew" or "Plum-fruited Yew", though these names are more commonly applied to plants in the genus Cephalotaxus (Cephalotaxaceae).
Wood: yellowish color and has a good quality, used in furniture and construction.
Evidence suggests that very little regeneration is occurring to replace current ageing trees in populations. In 2007, the Forestry Commission planted large numbers of young trees at Bedgebury Pinetum in the UK as part of a project aiming to conserve the genetic resources of endangered conifers [*].
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Listed as Vulnerable
Molloy, B. P. J. & Munoz-Schick, M. 1999. The correct name for the Chilean conifer Lleuque (Podocarpaceae). New Zealand J. Bot. 37: 189193. Available online (pdf file).Mill, R. R. & Quinn, C. J. 2001. Prumnopitys andina reinstated as the correct name for lleuque, the Chilean conifer recently renamed P. spicata (Podocarpaceae). Taxon 50: 1143 - 1154. **** Abstract.
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