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Products > Afrocarpus gracilior
Afrocarpus gracilior - African Fern Pine
Image of Afrocarpus gracilior
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Podocarpaceae (Podocarps)
Origin: Africa, East (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Insignificant
Bloomtime: Not Significant
Synonyms: [A. falcatus, Podocarpus gracilior]
Height: 40-60 feet
Width: 20-40 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Afrocarpus gracilior (African Fern Pine) - A dense, graceful tall evergreen tree with dark gray bark and pendulous branches that are heavily clothed in 2-3 inch long, narrow dark green leaves. In habitat it can reach as tall and 100 feet and old trees in cultivation can be 60 feet tall. It produces at branch ends a yellow fleshy fruit-like structure (technically a cone) that ages to purplish-blue. Plant in sun or part shade and water regularly. This is a nice dark green shade tree and it is also useful as a large screening plant. One of the few conifers native to Africa, it comes from equatorial eastern Africa ranging from Ethiopia south into Uganda and Kenya where it grows in dry forests between 4,000 and 9,000 feet. Long cultivated in gardens in the US under the name Podocarpus gracilior but more recently this genus has been split up and the valid name of this plant is now considered to be Afrocarpus gracilior. The distinguishing characteristics between Afrocarpus and Podocarpus have to do with how the seed-bearing structure (the fruit) is held, not on a fleshy stalk or receptacle for Afrocarpus as opposed to Podocarpus, which does have this structure, and because Afrocarpus have opposite decussate leaves alternate in pairs set at 90 degrees from the pair below it. We continue to grow other plants (P. henkelii, P. latifolia and P. totara) that have remained in the genus Podocarpus. The name Podocarpus comes from the Greek root words 'podo' meaning "foot" or "footed" and 'karpos' meaning "seed" and Afrocarpus is adapted from this name with the translation meaning African seed (from 'Afrus' the Libyan Hercules). The specific epithet is from Latin 'gracilis' meaning "thin" with the comparative suffix 'ior' making the meaning "thinner", likely in comparison to other species or Podocarpus. This plant is sometimes listed as Afrocarpus falcatus, a South African species that has spherical fruit while A. gracilior from the north has oval fruit. Some contend that it was Afrocarpus falcatus that was originally introduced into California as Podocarpus gracilior and that the true P. gracilior, now Afrocarpus gracilior is not actually in cultivation or is rarer. So not to confuse our customers and ourselves too much, we are continuing to list this tree as Afrocarpus gracilior until such time as botanists can work this all out. 

Information about Afrocarpus gracilior displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.