Pacific kauri (Agathis macrophylla)

Pacific kauri (Agathis macrophylla)

The Pacific kauri (Agathis macrophylla) is a gymnosperm, and can become a tall tree, growing up to 40 m in height, with a trunk up to 3 m in diameter.

Also known as: Pacific Kauri

Local Names: Dakua makadre, dakua, takua makadre, makadre, makadri, dakua dina, da’ua

Description

The Pacific kauri is a gymnosperm, and can become a tall tree, growing up to 40 m in height, with a trunk up to 3 m in diameter. In Fiji mature trees have been observed at 33 m in height. The leaves are leathery and dark green in colour, shiny on the top surface and glacous on the bottom. The leaves are arranged in pairs opposite to each other on the stem, all in one plane. Like other gymnosperms, the Pacific kauri produces male and female reproductive structures in cones and not in flowers. The female cones are globe shaped, whilst male cones are more cylindrical measuring up to 5cm in length; and each brown, winged seed is attached to a triangular cone scale on the cone. The leaves have parallel veins, not branching veins like those of angiosperms.

Distribution

Pacific kauri is found in the southwestern Pacific; in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. Within Fiji, it is found in Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Qamea, Ovalau and Kadavu.

 Pacific kauri (Agathis macrophylla)

Pacific kauri (Agathis macrophylla)

 Pacific kauri (Agathis macrophylla) map

Pacific kauri (Agathis macrophylla) map

Habitat Ecology and Behaviour

Pacific kauri occurs in the humid and mesic lowland forest, lower montane forests and even in Fiji’s dry forest. These trees grow particularly well in well drained, basalt-derived clay loams and clay soils with a well developed humus layer as the upper surface. They are gap opportunists and seedlings are dependent on large gap openings in the canopy to establish themselves. The Pacific kauri propagates by seed which are most abundant between January to March in Fiji. Pacific kauri is disputed to be among the fastest growing species of the genus Agathis, however, this is dependent on several factors. One of these factors is the exposure of the tree canopy to sunlight.

Threats

The main threat to the Pacific Kauri in Fiji is overexploitation because of its value as a high-quality timber.

Conservation Status

There was a commercial export venture of the Pacific kauri gum that was prohibited in 1941 because of the destructive impacts of extracting the gum from the trees. Thomson (2006) warns that an intensification of the commercial harvesting of this species in Fiji may led to a CITES listing for the Fiji populations of Pacific Kauris.

The Fiji Department of Forestry provides sells seedlings of the Pacific Kauri at their nursery and research station in Colo-i-Suva.

Remarks and Cultural Significance

There was a commercial export venture of the Pacific kauri gum that was prohibited in 1941 because of the destructive impacts of extracting the gum from the trees. Thomson (2006) warns that an intensification of the commercial harvesting of this species in Fiji may led to a CITES listing for the Fiji populations of Pacific Kauris.

The Fiji Department of Forestry provides sells seedlings of the Pacific Kauri at their nursery and research station in Colo-i-Suva.

References

Alston (1982);
Clunie (1983);
de Marzan (1987);
Keppel (2006);
Thomson (2006)

Front Page photo: Gunnar Keppel.