Naturalist Newsletter of January 21, 2008
issued from Yerba Buena Clinic just outside
Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacan, Chiapas, MÉXICO
about 1740 meters in elevation, ± LAT. 17° 11' 27"N, LONG. -92° 53' 35"W
A twig of one of the cloudforest's most distinctive and interesting trees is shown in my hand below:
That's PODOCARPUS MATUDAI, a gymnosperm, and a member of the Podocarp Family. I'm not aware of any common English name for members of this genus, other than "podocarp." Brockman's Trees of North America doesn't list any podocarps native to North America, though several species are planted as ornamentals. The yews, in an entirely different family, are the closest group of plants North America has to the podocarps. Most podocarps are native to the Southern Hemisphere.
The tree from which the twig was taken was fair sized, about 3.5 feet in diameter. Flowers and fruits were absent. Most podocarps come in male or female trees -- are dioecious. Fruits are usually drupe-like, looking a bit like olives.
Here Podocarpus grows only in the upper cloudforest zone. I'll bet a penny that if I could check on the Internet I'd find that the species is endangered.