Podocarpus Is More Than A Hedge

Podocarpus hedgePodocarpus (Podocarpus macrophyllus)

Podocarpus hedges are common in Florida, they make a dense screen hedge that stays green year round.  However, Podocarpus can reach 40 to 50 feet in height when not sheared and is quite attractive as a tree with the lower branches removed, revealing the light brown, peeling bark.  A great addition to the landscape.  I have also heard them called a Yew-Pine or Japanese Yew.

The inconspicuous flowers are followed by fleshy, purple, small, edible fruits (Arils) on female trees which are quite attractive to birds.  Attached to the fruit is the large hard green seed that is not edible.  In Summer I am known to visit friends that have Podocarpus hedges just pick their landscape.  The fruit is a great treat eaten raw right off the hedge, it has a grape flavor to me with a hint of blueberry.

Podocarpus FruitI have found the seeds sprout best if the fruit is still attached.  Layer them in some damp paper towels for 2 weeks and you will see the root sprout between the seed and the fruit. Then plant them in a pot or in the ground.  I hope to have a lot of these trees at the 40 acre woods, for the birds and me.

Remember, only eat the purple fruit (aril), the green seed is toxic.  Twist the seed and fruit apart after picking.

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