Podocarpaceae (yellowwood family) Afrocarpus

Afrocarpus falcatus African fern podocarpus

East Africa
Podocarpus falcatus (syn.)
Formal planting of Afrocarpus falcatus (syn. Podocarpus falcatus) at Lathrop Library. John Rawlings, 25 Sep 2005

The attractive foliage of this relative of the yew has become well known as a result of a wave of popularity that set in on campus just before 1970. Examples seem to pop up everywhere, especially in restricted spaces around buildings and nooks with not much sunlight. At first the plants seem hardly able to support themselves, but later they may become large trees. The leaves are about 4 inches long by ¼ inch wide and light green on young plants.

Specimens can be seen on Dueña Street. Eighteen grace the north side of Lathrop Library, down from 22. A giant is left of the Bechtel International Center entrance and another is at 817 Pine Hill Road. It is the street tree at 752 Tolman Drive and nearby. In Palo Alto, large handsome specimens are at 1106 and 1181 Hamilton Avenue and at 1543 Walnut Drive.

The popular name fern pine is well established but I cannot bring myself to use it.

Afrocarpus falcatus (syn. Podocarpus falcatus) leaves. John Rawlings, ca. 2005

Name derivation: Afro – African; karpos – fruit; falcatus – sickle-shaped.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the Podocarpus gracilior entry in the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Removed the refence to Afrocarpus elongatus; added the accepted name A. falcatus (Dec 2017, SP). Lathrop Library location added (Dec 2018, SP). Changed the synonym from P. gracilior to P. falcatus (P. g. is misapplied) (Feb 2024, SP).