Facts about Buddhist Pine

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Buddhist pine Quick Facts
Name: Buddhist pine
Scientific Name: Podocarpus macrophyllus
Origin China (Anhui, Chongqing, Fujian, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hong-Kong, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang), Japan, Myanmar and Taiwan
Colors Olive-green, berry-like cones ripen to purple
Shapes Cones are borne on a short stem, and have 2-4 scales, usually only one (sometimes two) fertile, each fertile scale bearing a single apical seed 10–15 mm.
Health benefits Beneficial for heart, kidneys, lungs, fevers, asthma, coughs, stomach diseases, sweaty feet, gonorrhea and syphilis
Podocarpus macrophyllus commonly known as Buddhist pine is a conifer in the genus Podocarpus and family Podocarpaceae. The plant is native to China (Anhui, Chongqing, Fujian, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hong-Kong, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Zhejiang), Japan, Myanmar and Taiwan. Common names of the plant include Big-leaf podocarp, Buddhist pine, Japanese yew, Shrubby yew, Shrubby podocarpus, Yew plum pine, Broad-leaved podocarp, Southern yew, Long-leaved podocarp, big leaf podocarp, yew plum pine, kusamaki, yew podocarp, Chinese Podocarpus and Chinese Yew Pine. Kusamaki and inumaki are Japanese names for this tree. In China, it is known as luóhàn sōng, which literally means arhat pine. Genus name comes from the Greek words pous or podos meaning a foot and karpos meaning a fruit as the fruit is born on a fleshy stalk. Specific epithet means large-leaved. Buddhist pine is highly regarded as a feng shui tree in Hong Kong, giving it a very high market value. In recent years, the illegal digging of Buddhist pine has become a problem in the city. This species can be trained as a bonsai.

Plant Description

Buddhist pine is a dense upright, large size evergreen shrub or small tree that grows about 20 m tall with 60 cm trunk diameter. The plant is found growing in forests, open thickets, and roadsides from near sea level to 1000 m. The plant can be grown in rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. It is tolerant of shade and intolerant of wet soils. The plant may develop chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves) in alkaline soils. The plant has gray or grayish brown bark.

Buddhist Pine Facts

Name Buddhist Pine
Scientific Name Podocarpus macrophyllus
Native China (Anhui, Chongqing, Fujian, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hong-Kong, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang), Japan, Myanmar and Taiwan
Common Names Big-leaf podocarp, Buddhist pine, Japanese yew, Shrubby yew, Shrubby podocarpus, Yew plum pine, Broad-leaved podocarp, Southern yew, Long-leaved podocarp, big leaf podocarp, yew plum pine, kusamaki, yew podocarp, Chinese Podocarpus, Chinese Yew Pine
Name in Other Languages Arabic: Mielaqat kabirat al’awraq (معلاقة كبيرة الأوراق)
Chinese: Da ye luo han song (大葉羅漢松),  Luo han song (罗汉松   ),  Luo han song (羅漢松)
Danish: Sydtaks
English: Big-leaf podocarp, Buddhist pine, Japanese yew, Shrubby yew, Shrubby podocarpus, Yew plum pine, Broad-leaved podocarp, Southern yew, Long-leaved podocarp, big leaf podocarp, yew plum pine, kusamaki, yew podocarp
French: Podocarpe à grandes feuilles
Finnish: Japaninpodokarpus
German: Großblättrige Steineibe
Hungarian: Nagylevelu kínai kotiszafa
Italian: Podocarpo a grandi foglie
Japanese: Quǎn diān (犬槇)  Inu maki (イヌマキ), Kusamaki (クサマキ), Maki
Portuguese:  Podocarpus-de-folha-grande
Russian: Nogoplodnik krupnolistnyj (Ногоплодник крупнолистный), Podokarpus krupnolistnyy (Подокарпус крупнолистный )
Spanish: Podocarpo de hoja grande, Tejo chino, podocarpo
Swedish: Storbladig podokarp
Vietnamese: Thông La hán
Plant Growth Habit Dense upright, large size evergreen shrub or small tree
Growing Climates Forests, open thickets and roadsides
Soil Best grown in rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of shade. Intolerant of wet soils. May develop chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves) in alkaline soils.
Plant Size About 20 m tall and 60 cm trunk diameter
Bark Gray or grayish brown bark
Leaf Arranged spirally round the shoot, crowded, erect to spreading, linear, tapering at both ends 6–12 cm long, and about 1 cm broad, obtuse or slightly acute at the apex, of firm, rather leathery texture
Flowering Season April to May
Flower Male and female cones are in separate plants
Fruit Shape & Size Cones are borne on a short stem, and have 2-4 scales, usually only one (sometimes two) fertile, each fertile scale bearing a single apical seed 10–15 mm.
Fruit Color Olive-green, berry-like cones ripen to purple
Propagation By seed
Season October
Culinary Uses
  • Fruit raw or cooked can be used in pies, cakes etc.

Leaves & fruits

Leaves are arranged spirally round the shoot, crowded, erect to spreading, linear, tapering at both ends 6–12 cm long, and about 1 cm broad, obtuse or slightly acute at the apex, of firm, rather leathery texture, the midrib prominently raised above and below, yellowish green when young, becoming dark green above. Foliage is pleasantly fragrant when bruised. The cones are borne on a short stem, and have 2-4 scales, usually only one (sometimes two) fertile, each fertile scale bearing a single apical seed 10–15 mm. They are fleshy, olive-green, berry-like cones that ripen in the second year to purple. When mature, the scales swell up and become reddish purple, fleshy and berry-like, 10–20 mm long.

Fruits may be eaten out of hand or used in pies and cakes. They are then eaten by birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings. Kusamaki is the state tree of Chiba Prefecture, Japan. It is a popular large shrub or small tree in gardens, particularly in Japan and the southeastern United States. The ripe cone arils are edible, though the seed should not be eaten. Because of its resistance to termites and water, it is used for quality wooden houses in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan.

Traditional uses and benefits of Buddhist pine

  • Stem bark is used in the treatment of worms (especially ringworm) and blood disorders.
  • Decoction of the fruit is tonic for the heart, kidneys, lungs and stomach.
  • The bark is used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine as an antiseptic, astringent and carminative and has proved to be useful in the treatment of fevers, asthma and coughs.
  • Mixed with ginger, it is used as a rubefacient in the treatment of cholera.
  • Stem bark is used as a wash in the treatment of arsenic poisoning, skin diseases and ulcers in China.
  • Fruit is carminative, pectoral and stomachic.
  • Seed is used in the treatment of cholera, heart ailments, and stomach diseases and for sweaty feet.
  • Smoke from shavings of totara is used to treat venereal diseases such as gonorrhea and syphilis.
  • Leaves and smoke from the leaves is used to treat piles, sores and lesions.
  • Berries are consumed as laxative and unknown parts of the plant to treat constipation in women.
  • Stem bark of Podocarpus macrophyllus D. Don is used in the treatment of worms and blood disorders in Ayurvedic medicine.
  • Decoction of the leaves is used in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of rheumatism and painful joints.

Other Facts

  • Plants are used for hedging in N. America.
  • Erect cultivar ‘Maki’ is commonly used.
  • Wood is used in making furniture, utensils, paper, and farm implements.
  • This species can be trained as a bonsai.
  • Kusamaki is the state tree of Chiba Prefecture, Japan.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=183490#null

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=29121

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Podocarpus+macrophyllus

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=285416

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=POMA32

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podocarpus_macrophyllus#/media/File:Podocarpus_macrophyllus_(seed_s4).jpg

http://www.phytoneuron.net/2016Phytoneuron/37PhytoN-PodocarpusArkansas.pdf

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2567622

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/PODMA

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