In 1994, a NSW National Parks and Wildlife ranger walking in a remote region of the 500,000ha Wollemi National Park in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney came across an unusual stand of trees deep in a sandstone gorge.
Previously only known as a fossil some 90 million years old, he had discovered around 100 mature trees that were to become known as the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis). One of the world's oldest and rarest trees, the Wollemi pine belongs to the 200 million year old Araucariaceae family which contains the Kauri, Norfolk Island, Hoop, Bunya and Monkey Puzzle pines.
Norfolk Island Pine in our back garden
The Wollemi Pine can grow up to 40 m in the wild with a trunk diameter reaching up to one meter. The bark of the tree is bubbly in appearance and chocolate brown in colour. Each plant has both male and female sexual reproductive cones. These cones appear at the end of branches, the female cone always growing above a male. The Wollemi Pine has two types of branches, one that grows upright looking like a trunk arising in most cases from the base of the tree, and another that grows laterally and bears sessile leaves. One amazing characteristic of the Wollemi Pine is that of every plant growing in the wild has the exact same DNA, making the species even more special.
Our Wollemi pine
The Wollemi pine has been propagated commercially and is now available for general garden and landscaping use.
I was lucky enough to receive one as a present last weekend.
We will keep it as a potted plant for the time being until we decide what pride of place it will take in our garden.