Belfast Botanic Gardens Tree Archive

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This is one of a series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens compiled by the Friends group. The tree tag number relates to the small aluminium discs, usually fixed on the tree trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.
Pseudopanax crassulifolius

Tag 77

Lancewood is a native of New Zealand eventually growing to 15m height in lowland and lower montain forests. It is a plant with a dramatic difference between the juvenile form and the adult form. Several of our UK native plants show some differences in the juvenile state, such a ivy (Hedera helix) which has toothed juvenile leaves and entire adult leaves and beech (Fagus sylvatica) in which the juvenile leaves persist on the tree whereas the adult leaves are shed in the Autumn. The juvenile form of the lancewood has tough leathery leaves up to 1m long that point down, while the adult form has much shorter leaves in bunches on the branches (see photos below).

It has been suggested that the strange looking juvenile form may have evolved as a protection from predation by the now extinct flightless moa bird. Once the tree was more than about 2m high it would have been safe from attack.

Note 2019: The Pseudopanax was removed to the service yard during the Ravine renovations. It has been replanted in the small bed beside the upper doors of the Ravine and seems to be thriving there. The lat. and long. given above relate to its new location.

Pseudopanax in Belfast Botanic Gardens Pseudopanax juvenile
Pseudopanax crassulifolius in Belfast Botanic Gardens Juvenile form of Pseudopanax crassulifolius - see source reference below
foliage of adult Pseudopanax crassufolius umbel flower head of Pseudopanax crassulifolius
Adult foliage of Pseudopanax crassulifolius Flower umbel of Pseudopanax crassulifolius

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2015 except picture of juvenile form which is from excellent botanical website

Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.

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