Few would think of Australia as a land of conifers, because of the aridity of the landscape. But conifers like Prumnopitys ladei is a testimony to the importance of Australian rainforest as a living museum of conifers.
P. ladei is a Podocarp (a conifer belonging to the Podocarpaceae family. This family forms part of what some conifer scientists would like to call the southern conifers – conifers which are predominantly found in the wet forests of the Southern Hemisphere. Fossil records suggest that Podocarps were quite prolific during the Cenozoic period, but now their species diversity is greatly reduced and most lving members are confined to the Australasian region. This relictual species is known by the common names of Brown Pine, Mount Spurgeon Black Kauri Pine or Mount Spurgeon Black Pine.
The distribution of P. ladei is rather restricted, with plants growing only on the Mount Spurgeon and Mount Lewis at elevations of 1000-1200 m. Fortunately, the species is quite hardy and has been relatively popular in cultivation. A healthy specimen grows in Gondwana gardens of the Cairns Botanical Gardens at lowland altitudes.
The species is instantly distinguishable from other Podocarp (genus Podocarpus, Sundacarpus and Agathis) by the small leaves.