- Conifer, evergreen tree, to 100 ft (30 m) tall in its native New Zealand, probably 30 ft a landscape, dense, spreading branches, initially a bushy tree, more open with age, may attain a massive trunk. Leaves needle-like, spirally arranged, linear-lanceolate, resembling a yew, 15-30 mm long and 3-4 mm wide, on old plants 20 × 1-2 mm, gray-green to brownish, stiff, leathery, prickly, distinct mid-rib below. Pollen cones 1-1.5 cm long, solitary or up to 4 together on a short peduncle. Female branchlets axillary, flowers solitary or paired, peduncle 2-3 mm long; receptacle of 2-4 scales, acute and free at tips, usually red, swollen and succulent, occasionally dry.
- Sun or light shade
- Hardy to USDA Zone (8) 9 Native to New Zealand, found on both the North and South Islands, in lowland, montane and lower subalpine forests. One of the largest trees in New Zealand forests.
Podocarpus totara is very closely related and similar in appearance to the more hardy Podocarpus nubigenus of southern Chile. If planted together, they are very difficult to differentiate. The best distinction is the slightly brighter green tone of P. nubigenus leaves compared to the more greyish-green of P. totara.
- Yellow leafed selection: 'Aurea'
- totara: the Maori name of the plant
- Santa Cruz, California: U.C. Santa Cruz Arboretum