What is it?
The Wollemi Pine is a conifer. It grows to a height of 35 meters with a trunk
diameter of over one
meter. The trunk is particularly unusual in being covered with brown, knobbly, spongy bark. The leaves vary from bright lime green to apple green. The Wollemi Pine is related to the Hoop Pine and Norfolk Island Pine, which are members
of the Araucaria family.
The tree is bisexual with both female and male reproductive cones on the same tree. The winged seeds are probably dispersed by the wind.
Why is it so important?
The Wollemi Pine is a “living fossil”. The discovery of the Wollemi Pine is particularly significant in being a previously unknown genus whose closest relatives are fossils from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods between 200 million and 65 million years ago.
The Wollemi Pine’s habitat
A small grove of young and mature Wollemi Pine trees are growing about 200 kilometres north-west of Sydney, with the boundaries of the Wollemi National Park. The Park, which contains the largest wilderness area of New South Wales, is a rugged mountainous region of canyons, cliffs, and undisturbed forest. The
trees grow on wet ledges in a deep, sheltered rainforest gully.
How the Wollemi Pine was discovered.
Like many notable finds, the discovery of the Wollemi Pine was made by chance. In August 1994,
Dave Noble, a NSW National Park and Wildlife Service field officer was walking in the Wollemi National Park when he stumbled across a grove
of trees that he did not recognize immediately. The NSW National Park and Wildlife Service Senior Naturalist in
the Blue Mountains area, when called upon
to identify the plant, soon realized that here was indeed an unidentified plant. Botanists at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney were consulted and confirmed the identification.
The role of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.
A research program, co-coordinated by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, is studying the ecology of the grove and the trees.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is preparing a conservation strategy to protect the grove of Wollemi Pine and undertaking a study of the ecosystem. One of their primary objectives is to limit access to the site, since the trees’ very survival depends upon their isolation. The trees could be affected by fungal disease, weeds or fire, but by limiting access to the area, they hope to reduce the threats posed to the grove.
The Royal Botanic Gardens has been undertaking investigations into the Wollemi
Pine at various levels of botanical and horticultural research. Detailed studies of DNA, the structure of leaves, seeds, pollen and bark, and techniques for the propagation and cultivation of the plants are also in progress at the Royal Botanic Gardens. At this stage, they do not know how soon you will be able to buy one for your garden.
Wollemi Pine will be offered for sale in