Scientific: Afrocarpus gracilior (formerly named Podocarpus gracilior)
Common: fern pine
Family: Podocarpaceae (a gymnosperm)
Origin: East African montane evergreen rainforests of Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia occurs in montane evergreen rainforest at elevations from 4,000 to 10,000 feet.

Taxonomic note: Afrocarpus gracilior and Afrocarpus falcatus (from South Africa) are very similar in appearance. And these two species are considered by some botanists to be conspecific. But they are not only geographically separated but also distinct in several, albeit minor, morphological characters and here are considered as separate species following Farjon (2010).

Source: Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.

Pronounciation: A-fro-CAR-pus gra-SIL-ee-or

Hardiness zones
8-9, 12-13 (with protection), 14-24
USDA 9-11

Landscape Use: Fern pine is a medium-sized, evergreen shade tree that is best planted with space to grow on north sides of buildings. Rarely seen in Phoenix landscapes, but is extremely popular in coastal southern California where it is often used and misused. It is also found in large indoor atriums in the eastern United States and can be cultivated for extended periods in large containers.

Form & Character: Evergreen tree, upright and stiffly rounded to pendulous, pine like.

Growth Habit: Moderately fast to 60 feet in height, generally upright when young becoming more spreading with age.

Foliage/Texture: Lanceolate to linear leaves, 2 to 4 inches long, dull green on dull green stems, irregularly arranged. In Phoenix, 'summer leaves' shorter than 'winter leaves' because of the blisteringly ridiculous high summer heat; overall fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Flowers are inconspicuous. Fruits are rounded, one or two together at the end of short leafy spur branchlets, small, single seeded, green changing to yellow when ripe, lacking a basal, fleshy receptacle.

Seasonal Color: None

Temperature: Heat sensitive, especially when young. Plant fern pine on north sides of buildings for heat protection when young.

Light: Nearly full shade to full sun, but no reflected sunlight or bright western exposures.

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: Regular

Pruning: Raising the crown base is needed when training as a small tree. Fern pine may also be trained as wall espalier when young.

Propagation: Seed or cutting. Seed propagated trees are upright, whereas cutting propagated trees need ample staking when young to establish an upright posture.

Disease and pests: Spider mites

Additional comments: Fern pine is a very nice and clean tree (less than average litter) that requires an appropriate planting location in Phoenix (usually north exposures, north sides of buildings, or mesic landscapes with copious greenery). Fern pine casts a medium dense shade when it is mature. Don't underestimate the eventual size of this tree; it's ultimately very large. Although special care to planting location is warranted in Phoenix, fern pine is actually quite adaptable to the most all of the mild climate zones of the western United States.

All species of Afrocarpus are native to Africa.