Prumnopitys montana (Humb., & Bonpl. ex Willd.) de Laub

Although this valuable timber tree has a widespread distribution in Tropical South America the population has been significantly reduced due to logging


This species is distributed throughout Tropical South America in the following countries:

Bolivia: Dept. of: Cochabamba (Prov. Arani). Colombia; Depts of Antioquia (Belmira, San Andres), Boyacá (Arabuca, Villa de Leiva), Caldas (Pensilvania), Cauca, Cesar (Manaure, Robles La Paz, Cundinamarca (Chocontá, Guasca, Facatativá, La Calera, Pacho, San Cayetano, Subachoque),  La Guajira, Magdalena (Santa Marta), Quindío (Salento), Risarald (Pereira), Tolima (Anzoátegui, Murillo). Ecuador: Provs. of: Azuay (Cuenca), Cañar, Loja,  Morona-Santiago, (Morona),  Zamora-Chinchipe (Palanda, Zamora). Perú: Depts. of :Cajamarca (San Ignacio) Junín (Chanchamay),  Pasco (Oxapamp), San Martín. Venezuela: States of: Lara, Tachira, Zulia.

Although there are no precise figures of the loss of mature individuals, observations strongly suggest a significant decline in this species in recent years. In Colombia (where it is has a national IUCN listing of Vulnerable A2abc), the species was once widespread and there has been an estimated 30% reduction in the sub-population during the last 30 years (García, 2010). The overall loss in its area of occupancy is estimated as being at least 30%.  Of what remains, some 20 significant stands have become further fragmented and are continuing to be reduced in size as a result of selective logging (García, 2010). There is a similar situation with the species in Perú where it should also be considered as being threatened (Reynel, pers. comm.). The timber of Podocarpaceae in tropical South America has great value and all trees are at risk, even those in protected areas; furthermore, there is no reason to believe the situation will improve significantly in the future, even though many important stands are protected within national parks.

Habitat and Ecology

It is a component of montane forests where it occurs between 1500–3600m. At its lower altitudinal range it is often associated with species of Bejaria, Citharexylum, Clusia, Juglans, Octoea, Oreopanax and Weinmannia and at higher altitudes it occurs as part of ridge vegetation which is often dominated by members of the Ericaceae and also includes species of Podocarpus.

Human Uses

An economically important species as the wood is considered to be valuable for a range of uses including house construction, the handles of agricultural tools, general carpentry, floors and cabinet making. Its yellow sapwood and reddish heartwood make it attractive for turning.

Conservation Status

Global status

Vulnerable A2acd

Global rationale

Although this timber tree species has a relatively broad distribution in tropical South America it has been under much pressure from logging during the last 50–60 years. There is evidence that many of the formerly quite extensive stands have now either disappeared or been considerably reduced; this is certainly the case in Colombia and Perú.  It is estimated that there has been at least 30% global loss within the last three generations (here a generation length of 25–30 years seems to be reasonable for tropical member of the Podocarpaceae) due to logging and agroforestry. A continuing decline is highly likely but very difficult to quantify. Therefore this species has been assessed as Vulnerable A2acd.

Global threats

Throughout its distribution this species has suffered from habitat loss as a result of logging for its highly prized timber and deforestation associated with agroforestry activities. The plight of this species is best documented in Colombia which likely reflects its conservation status throughout its distribution in tropical South America.  For example, the montane and premontane forests of Colombia have been reduced drastically by the expansion of agricultura; selective harvesting has reduced both the frequency and dominance of species such as Prumnopitys montana (Marin, 1998). Furthermore the reproductive physiology of this species limits effective regeneration.

Conservation Actions

It is conserved in a number of protected areas throughout its distribution, for example in Colombia it is protected in: Parque Regional Ucumarí; Parque Nacional Los Nevados, PN Puracé, PN Nevado del Huila. The protocols for germinating seed have been established (Nieto & Rodríguez, 2003; García, 2007; Restrepo & Murillo, 2007) which has helped the propagation of plants an ex-situ conservation project in Colombia (García, 2007 and greatly assisted reafforestation projects in Colombia and Ecuador.

References and further reading

  1. Castañeda, F. and A. Perea. (1982). Contribución al conocimiento morfológico de las estructuras floralesde Podocarpus montanus (Willd) Lodd. Monografía. Universidad Nacional de Colombia., Bogotá.
  2. García, N. (ed.). (2007). Libro Rojo de Plantas de Colombia. Volumen 5: Las magnoliáceas, las miristicáceas y las podocarpáceas. Serie Libros Rojos de Especies Amenazadas de Colombia. Instituto Alexander von Humboldt – Corporación Autónoma del Centro de Antioquia (CORANTIOQUIA), Jardín Botánico Joaquín Antonio Uribe de Medellín – Instituto de Ciencias Naturales de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Ministerio de Ambiente, Vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial. Bogotá, Colombia. pp. 236. Instituto Alexander von Humboldt - Instituto de Ciencias Naturales de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia - Ministerio de Ambiente, Vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial., Bogotá.
  3. Gardner, M. 2013. Prumnopitys montana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>
  4. Marin, A., Romero, J.L. & J.A.Wright. (1998). Gene Conservation with Podocarpaceae in Colombia. Available at: http://www.greenstone.org/greenstone3/nzdl;jsessionid=80821954DCAFF896DEF89A828048 4C9B?a=d&d=HASHcb37168acb111b58f77a1f&c=fi1998&sib=1&dt=simple&ec=&et=&p.a=b&p.s=ClassifierBrowse&p.sa=.
  5. Marin, A.M. (1997). Ecologia y silvicultura de las Podocarpaceas andinas de Colombia. Cali: Smurfit Cartón de Colombia .
  6. Nieto, V. M. & J. Rodríguez (eds). (2003). Podocarpus montanus. In: Vozzo, J.A. (ed.), Tropical Tree Seed Manual, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
  7. Restrepo, L.M.G.R. & J.L.T., Murillo. (2007). Manejo delas semillas y la propagación de diez especies forestales del Bosque Andino. Corporación Autónoma Regional de Centro de Antioquia (CORAUTIOQUA).