Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 88 Podocarpus macrophylla

Common Names: podocarpus, yew podocarpus, Japanese yew, Buddhist pine Family: Podocarpaceae (podocarpus Family)
Image Gallery

The foliage of Podocarpus macrophyllus var. 'Maki'
This is the foliage and blue female cones of the yew pine Podocarpus macrophyllus 'Maki'. The foliage of the species is shown in the inset.
Podocarpus macrophyllus fruits
If the shrubs are well-watered and feed, fertilized female cones will develop fleshy arils that enlarge and ripen over the course of the summer into what look like jelly candies (but don't eat them).


The yew pine is an upright to somewhat oval shrub or small tree. Podocarps are gymnosperms like pines, spruces and cycads. They have needlelike leaves that are flat and a lustrous dark green. Catkin-like structures on male plants called cones produce pollen. Female cones produce fruits that are attractive against the dark foliage but are mildly toxic and should not be eaten. They consist of a fleshy aril below the blue seed. This is an excellent woody foliage shrub, and may be trimmed or shaped into round or square columns or cones. Although it has a moderate to slow rate of growth, it can become very large if left alone to grow undisturbed. Specimens on the campus of Florida State University are easily 20 ft (6.1 m). This large shrub or tree can reach 30-40 ft (9.1-12.2 m) in height with about half that in spread.


Podocarpus macrophyllus is native to Japan and southern China. Widely used in gardens and landscapes in compatible climates throughout the world.

a trimmed yew pine
This yew pine has been carved into a cube shape and assigned to guard an entryway.


Likes fertile, well drained soil. A faster growth rate can be achieved with regular feeding for the first few years. Use mulch to keep grass from growing under shrubs. Light: Shade to sun. Moisture: Fertile, well drained soil preferred but yew pine is tolerant of many types except for those that are constantly wet. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 10. Good coastal plant; tolerates salt spray and withstands heat! Propagation: Hardwood cuttings; easy to root. Seeds may take two years to germinate! Volunteer seedlings often appear in the shade of well mulched female individuals.


Podocarpus works well in both informal and sheared hedges and as a foundation shrub. It's effective beside tall buildings, or anywhere a tall, narrow specimen is needed. Because of shade tolerance, makes an ideal courtyard tree. Some grand, ancient podocarps grace the heights of 3-story courtyards in New Orleans.

male catkins
This is the male yew pine's cone which produces the pollen.


If you are doing a black garden, yew pine's dark, shiny, needlelike foliage is the perfect addition. All yew pines are upright growers but the variety 'Maki' is even more so. It also does not grow as tall as the species and has longer, more graceful foliage.

Sometimes used in flower arrangements (especially funeral baskets), yew pine foliage lasts a long time when cut. Leaves hang on even when dry, and a bowl full of greenery can be handsome for months, even after it turns brown! This durable and beautiful plant is virtually pest and disease free.

Jack Scheper 07/09/97, updated: 02/20/99, 07/08/01, 2/12/04, 1/20/08, 9/6/09

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Podocarpus species profiled on Floridata:

Podocarpus macrophylla

( podocarpus, yew podocarpus, Japanese yew, Buddhist pine )

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