Alpine Celery Pine Phyllocladus trichomanoides var. alpinus

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Not blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
alpine celery pine


The plant, commonly known as the mountain celery pine, presents a very distinctive appearance when compared to typical coniferous trees. Instead of the common needle-like leaves found in many conifers, it displays flattened, leaf-like structures that are actually modified branches known as phylloclades. These phylloclades are arranged in a spiraling pattern around the stems, giving the impression of a whorled, tiered formation. In color, the phylloclades are a rich green, contributing to a dense, bushy look that may remind one vaguely of celery, hence the common name. The edges of these leaf-like structures are often slightly wavy, providing a textural quality to the foliage. During certain times of the year, the plant produces small, inconspicuous flowers that might be easily overlooked. Following the flowering period, it bears fruit that is small and rounded. The overall form of the mountain celery pine is irregular, contributing to its unique visual impact. Its bark is another distinguishing feature, with a rough and fibrous texture that adds to its rugged character. This bark tends to be a dark brown color, which contrasts nicely with the green of the phylloclades. The plant has a tendency to branch out, creating a somewhat spreading habit that can give it a picturesque, almost sculptural quality. While I must refrain from discussing the specific dimensions of the mountain celery pine, it's essential to understand that the plant's size is a defining characteristic, influencing how it occupies space and presents itself visually in the landscape. The proportions of its branches and phylloclades contribute to its overall appearance, which can be quite striking in its natural habitat or when used in ornamental plantings.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Alpine Celery Pine, Mountain Toatoa

    • Common names

      Phyllocladus alpinus, Phyllocladus trichomanoides var. hookeri, Lepidocladus hookeri, Lepidocladus alpinus.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Tanekaha is not widely known to be toxic to humans. There is limited information on the toxicity or potential side effects of unintentional ingestion of this plant in humans. However, it is always recommended to avoid eating ornamental or wild plants due to potential risks, including idiosyncratic allergic reactions or unknown toxicity.

    • To pets

      Tanekaha is not widely known to be toxic to pets; however, there is limited information regarding its toxicity to domestic animals such as dogs and cats. As a precautionary measure, it is best to prevent pets from ingesting plants that are not typically part of their diet, as they may cause gastrointestinal upset or other health issues, even if a plant is not definitively known to be poisonous.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Height

      20 feet (6.1 meters)

    • Spread

      10 feet (3 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      New Zealand


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ecosystem Support: Phyllocladus trichomanoides var. alpinus, commonly known as Mountain Toatoa, provides essential habitat and food for a variety of wildlife species.
    • Soil Stability: The root systems of Mountain Toatoa help to stabilize soil and prevent erosion on mountain slopes.
    • Carbon Sequestration: As a tree, Mountain Toatoa captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, contributing to the mitigation of climate change.
    • Timber Production: The wood of Mountain Toatoa is of high quality and can be used for building materials, furniture, and other wooden products.
    • Biodiversity Enhancement: By being a part of mixed forest ecosystems, Mountain Toatoa contributes to species diversity.
    • Cultural Significance: For indigenous cultures and local communities, Mountain Toatoa can have significant cultural, spiritual, and historical importance.
    • Water Cycle Regulation: Like many trees, Mountain Toatoa plays a role in the water cycle, through transpiration and by influencing precipitation patterns.
    • Landscape Aesthetics: Mountain Toatoa adds to the natural beauty of landscapes, especially in alpine and forested areas, and may be appreciated by hikers and nature enthusiasts.
    • Shelter: Providing natural shelter from the elements, they are useful in alpine landscapes for both wildlife and recreational purposes.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Craft Material: The wood of the Phyllocladus trichomanoides, commonly known as tanekaha, can be used to create small crafts, like traditional Maori carvings, due to its fine grain and workability.
    • Natural Dye: The bark of the tanekaha tree contains high levels of tannins, which can be used to produce a natural brown dye for textiles.
    • Waterproofing Agent: The same tannins from the bark may also be used in traditional methods of waterproofing woven baskets and fabrics.
    • Perfumery: Extracts from tanekaha leaves and bark have been experimentally used as a component in perfumes for their woodsy and earthy tones.
    • Insect Repellent: The essential oils in tanekaha leaves can be used as a natural insect repellent when crushed and applied to the skin or infused into lotions.
    • Ritual Uses: Parts of the tanekaha tree are used in some cultural rituals by indigenous groups in New Zealand for their spiritual significance.
    • Floral Arrangements: The attractive foliage of tanekaha is sometimes used as greenery in floral arrangements and bouquets.
    • Photography Subject: Due to its unique phylloclades and overall appearance, tanekaha is often photographed and appreciated for its beauty in nature photography.
    • Bioindicator: Tanekaha trees can serve as bioindicators in forest ecosystems, as its presence can indicate certain soil types or environmental conditions.
    • Education: Tanekaha is used in educational settings to teach about native flora of New Zealand and the importance of forest conservation.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Celery Pine is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Celery Pine is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Resilience: The mountain toatoa is well-adapted to alpine conditions, which can be harsh and unforgiving, symbolizing the ability to endure and thrive in challenging circumstances.
    • Endurance: Its capability to survive at high altitudes with extreme temperatures represents an emblem of lasting strength and perseverance.
    • Rarity: Being a variety that is not as commonly known as others, the mountain toatoa can represent uniqueness and the value of scarce natural entities.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Alpine Celery Pine should be watered thoroughly whenever the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch, typically about once a week depending on environmental conditions. It's vital to water the plant slowly, allowing the water to seep down to the roots rather than just wetting the surface. For a potted plant, use approximately half a gallon of water to ensure deep watering. During the growing season in spring and summer, you may need to water more frequently, but always check the soil moisture level first to avoid overwatering. Cut back on watering during the winter months when the plant is dormant.

  • sunLight

    The Alpine Celery Pine thrives best in bright, indirect light or partial shade. A spot that receives filtered sunlight for most of the day is ideal. Direct, intense afternoon sun can be too harsh and should be avoided to prevent leaf scorch.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The Alpine Celery Pine prefers a cool to moderate temperature range and can withstand occasional dips down to about 20°F but should not be exposed to prolonged freezing temperatures. Ideally, maintain temperatures between 45°F and 65°F for optimal growth. Avoid placing the plant in locations where it may be subjected to sudden temperature changes, such as drafts or heating vents.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning the Alpine Celery Pine is generally done to maintain its shape, remove dead or damaged branches, and encourage new growth. The best time to prune is in late winter or early spring, just before new growth begins. Pruning lightly every year or two is sufficient. Clean cuts should be made just above a lateral branch or bud.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The Alpine Celery Pine thrives in well-draining soil with high organic content; peat moss, loamy soil, and perlite mix well to create the ideal substrate. They prefer slightly acidic to neutral pH levels, around 5.5 to 7.0.

  • plantRepotting

    Alpine Celery Pine does not require frequent repotting; it can be repotted every 2-3 years to replenish the soil and accommodate root growth.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Alpine Celery Pine requires moderate humidity levels, ideally ranging from 50% to 70%, to mimic its natural forest habitat conditions.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Use bright, indirect light and ensure high humidity.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in dappled sunlight and shelter from harsh elements.

    • Hardiness zone

      7-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Phyllocladus trichomanoides var. alpinus, commonly known as mountain toatoa, begins its life cycle with seed germination, where the seeds establish themselves in suitable soil conditions, often in cool, temperate climates with adequate moisture. The seedlings then develop into juvenile plants with phylloclades taking the role of leaves for photosynthesis. As the mountain toatoa matures, it forms a woody stem and bark, growing into a small to medium-sized tree. During its reproductive stage, mature trees produce cones—male cones releasing pollen and female cones developing seeds after pollination. The pollinated cones eventually release seeds back into the environment, continuing the reproductive cycle. The plant has a slow growth rate and can live for several centuries, with individual trees undergoing cycles of dormancy and growth that correspond to the seasons.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • Propogation: The Phyllocladus trichomanoides var. alpinus, commonly known as alpine celery pine, can be propagated through seed collection and sowing. The most popular method involves collecting ripe cones in the summer when they begin to disintegrate, which typically occurs from January to April in their native Southern Hemisphere locales. Seeds should then be extracted from the cones and sown in a well-draining, sterile seed mix. Adequate moisture levels must be maintained, without waterlogging the seeds. The seeds of alpine celery pine may exhibit dormancy, and therefore it can be beneficial to stratify them at around 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) for one to three months to promote germination. Seedlings will require nurturing in controlled environments, such as cold frames or greenhouses, for the first year before planting out into their permanent positions.