Herb: Matai

Latin name: Prumnopitys taxifolia

Synonyms: Dacrydium spicatum, Dacrydium taxifolium, Podocarpus spicatus, Prumnopitys spicata

Family: Podocarpaceae (Podocarpus Family)

Edible parts of Matai:

Fruit - raw. A sweet flavour. The fruit is about 10mm in diameter and contains one seed. The watery sap is drunk or used in the preparation of a beer-like beverage. It is best from trees that are neither too young nor too old. Other reports say that the young shoots are made into a beverage resembling spruce beer.

Description of the plant:


25 m
(82 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Lowland forests, North, South and Stewart Islands.

Other uses of Matai:

The plant is very tolerant of trimming and can be grown as a hedge. Wood. Used for furniture, construction, bridges etc.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - it can be sown at any time of the year in a sandy soil in a greenhouse. It can take 18 months to germinate. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/august in a frame. Easy. Cuttings of ripe wood with a heel in late summer.

Cultivation of Matai:

Lowland forests, North, South and Stewart Islands.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Prumnopitys taxifolia:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.