A large tree growing in native habitat [© Simon G. Haberle] (4).


Foliage on an ornamental specimen [C.J. Earle, May-1999].

Pilgerodendron uviferum (D. Don) Florin 1930

Common Names

Ciprès de la Guaitecas.

Taxonomic notes

The sole species in Pilgerodendron Florin 1930 (2). Syn: Libocedrus uvifera (1); Libocedrus tetragona (Hooker) Endl.; Thuja tetragona Hooker.


Narrowly pyramidal tree 1.5-10 m; trunk up to ca. 35 cm diameter; bark dark brown, flaking in long strips; shoots tetragonal. Leaves scale-like, imbricate, in 4 rows, (1.8-)2-4 × 1.5-3 mm, ovate, obtuse, sometimes reflexed. Male and female cones on different branches. Cones with 4-6 scales; upper and middle scales with 1-2, 2-winged seeds in fruit. Female cones 8-10 × ca. 8 mm, borne on short shoots; scales oblanceolate, the outer pair with a rigid dorsal spine ca. 3 mm, sometimes arcuate. Seeds with wide, oblique wing about twice as long as other, narrower, wing (2).


Western Chile, N to ca. 40°S lat.; western Argentina ca. 47-41°S lat. (Chubut, Neuquén, Rio Negro, and Santa Cruz districts). Found in Drimys-Nothofagus betuloides coastal forest or locally dominant in open stands on sheltered lowland bogs further inland, at 0-150 m (2, 3). This is said to be the southernmost conifer in the western hemisphere; I believe it is the southernmost in the world, but perhaps New Zealand has something a bit more southerly. In northern parts of its range it is commonly associated with Fitzroya (5).

Big Tree


See below.


Some work has been done, notably by the late Julian Szeicz, who has found trees more than 500 years old (2).




The species is listed as vulnerable by the WCMC: "Large-scale destruction of the forest during colonial times and the widespread opening up of the lowland areas have led to the extinction of the species from most of its original distribution. It is slow to mature and its regeneration is very poor, especially under a canopy" (3).

The species is fully protected under Appendix I of CITES (the Convention On International Trade In Endangered Species Of Wild Fauna And Flora (1973, revised 16-Apr-1993)).


(1) Silba 1986.

(2) Moore 1983.

(3) World Conservation Monitoring Centre - Trees.

(4) Simon Haberle and Keith Bennett. 1999. Late Quaternary Environmental Dynamics of Southwestern Chile. URL =, accessed 2-Feb-2000.

(5) Farjon 1998.

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This page is from the Gymnosperm Database
Edited by Christopher J. Earle
Last modified on 2-Feb-2000