List of Coniferous Trees in Tropical Climates

Coniferous Trees in Tropical Climates
Many people think that conifer trees only grow in subtropical climates, but that is not true. Many species of conifer trees grow in tropical climates and they still exist today.

Areas with tropical climates generally have rainforests that are shady and always green. Because of this, the growing trees also adjust to not shedding their leaves. This includes coniferous trees that grow in the tropics and do not always have needle leaves. They have dark green foliage and are wider than typical coniferous trees.

What are some coniferous trees that live in tropical climates? Here is the list:


1. Pinus merkusii

Pinus merkusii
Pinus merkusii in Lake Toba, North Sumatra, Indonesia | Source:

Pinus merkusii is the only conifer tree of the genus Pinus that grows naturally in tropical climates. This tree is native to the highlands of Sumatra, Indonesia. The tree has been planted as a greening tree on the slopes of Indonesia’s mountains and cultivated as a pine sap-producing tree.


2. Taxus sumatrana

Taxus sumatrana
Taxus sumatrana in nurseries | Source:

Taxus sumatrana is the only Yew tree that grows in tropical climates. This tree is native to Southeast Asia whose existence is now becoming rare. In Indonesia, this tree grows in the Kerinci mountains. It is known that the tree extract can be processed into cancer medicine and it is threatening this tree species in the wild because of the large number of illegal logging. In Indonesia and Taiwan, the Taxus sumatrana tree is classified as a protected flora.


3. Podocarpus

Podocarpus sp
Podocarpus sp. in Lingnan Garden, Hong Kong | Source:

Podocarpus is the name of a conifer tree genus that consists of 100 listed species. The tree has very slow growth. One of the most common species that grows in tropical rainforests is Podocarpus neriifolius and Podocarpus polystachyus, the tree that has a range of almost all of Southeast Asia. Others are species that grow in Indonesia and Malaysia including Podocarpus costalis (Philippines and Taiwan), Podocarpus brevifolius, Podocarpus globulus (Malaysia), Podocarpus borneensis, Podocarpus confertus, and Podocarpus rumphii (Indonesia).


4. Agathis

Agathis dammara
Agathis dammara at Mount Gede Pangrango, Indonesia | Source:

Agathis is a genus consisting of 21 large ancient conifer trees that grow in lowland tropical forests. This tree is better known by its local name, namely Amboyna Pine or Damar. Now, most of the Agathis species are rare trees that can only be found in remote areas in the southern hemisphere.

Agathis dammara is a species of Agathis that is endemic to Indonesia and is most commonly cultivated for its sap, called copal.


5. Araucaria

Araucaria sp
Araucaria sp. on the slopes of mountains | Source:

Araucaria is a genus of coniferous trees from the family Araucariaceae. There are 19 species in this genus, with a highly discrete distribution in New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, eastern Australia, Irian, Argentina, Chile, and southern Brazil where it grows in lowlands and open areas.

Araucaria is an ancient tree that has existed since Mesozoic times. The fossil record shows that this genus also existed in the northern hemisphere until the end of the Cretaceous period.


6. Dacrydium

Dacrydium sp
Dacrydium sp. in the highland forests of Borneo, Indonesia | Source:

Dacrydium is a genus of coniferous trees belonging to the Podocarpaceae family. Until now, 16 species have been recognized. Its natural habitats range from New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands through New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, to Thailand and southern China.


7. Libocedrus

Libocedrus sp
Libocedrus sp. in the highland rain forest | Source:

Libocedrus is a genus of coniferous trees consisting of 5 species in the Cupressaceae family, native to New Zealand and New Caledonia. This genus is closely related to the South American genera Pilgerodendron and Austrocedrus, and to the genus Papuacedrus, both of which are included in Libocedrus by some botanists.

This genus is somewhat similar to the genera of the Northern Hemisphere, Calocedrus, and Thuja. In the past, what is now called Calocedrus was sometimes incorporated into Libocedrus.

One of them, Libocedrus papuana syn Papuana papuacedrus, is native to tropical rainforests in New Guinea and Maluku Province, Indonesia.


8. Acmopyle

Acmopyle sp
Acmopyle sp. in a tropical forest | Source:

Acmopyle is a genus of conifers belonging to the Podocarpaceae family. This genus contains only 2 species which are spruce. Acmopyle pancheri is endemic to New Caledonia, and Acmopyle sahniana is endemic to Fiji but has a fossil record in Australia. Both of them grow naturally in tropical forests.


9. Casuarina

Casuarina junghuhniana
Casuarina junghuhniana at Mount Bromo, Indonesia | Source:

The genus Casuarina consists of 17 species of cypress trees. The tree has the smallest and longest needles compared to other tropical conifers. Two species grow naturally in tropical climates, one on the Australian coast, known as the Australian Pine or Whistling Pine Tree (Casuarina equisetifolia), and another in the Indonesian mountains known as Mountain ru or Red-tipped ru (Casuarina junghuhniana).

Casuarina equisetifolia is most commonly used as a bonsai tree, while Casuarina junghuhniana is widely grown for ornamental trees in gardens or large yards.


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