Found throughout the country, with a very distinctive juvenile form prodivding a dramatic feature.
Pseudopanax crassifolius is a New Zealand native tree belonging to the family Araliaceae and It is found throughout New Zealand from sea level up to about 750m. It is one of the oddities in New Zealand's forest.
The adult tree grows to about 15 metres tall and supports a many-branched, rounded crown of short, leathery leaves. An important feature of the Lancewood is that it has several distinct phases throughout its life cycle (heteroblastic growing several forms or type of leaves along a shoot depending on age or shoot length.
The most obvious being the significant morphological changes from the juvenile to the adult forms. In the juvenile form, the Pseudopanax crassifolius has a slender single main stem reaching 4.5 - 6 metres in height. The juvenile leaves are long, narrow and 12 - 20mm in width deflecting downward. The leaves are primarily a very dark green colour with a purple underside. They also have a pronounced yellow-orange midrib occupying almost a third of the leaf area. Distinctive teeth are distributed along the margins of the tough and coriaceous leaves. This is contrasted with the adult form that can reach 15 meters in height and is characterised by a round, thick-leaved head on top of a straight tall trunk of up to 500mm in diameter. Grey bark and ridges spiral up the length of the trunk.
After a long juvenile period of 15 to 20 years, the apex starts to branch and the stem starts to thicken. The adult leaves can occur unifoliate, three-foliate or five-foliate. The teeth diminish and become less fierce, resulting in a serrated or smooth leaf margin.
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