Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Wollemi Pine - Wollemia nobilis -                                                                                                                                                                                     Family:                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Araucariaceae                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

In 1994 a "living fossil" tree species was discovered which was thought to have been extinct for about 50 million years. The wollemi pine was discovered in the Wollemi National Park in New South Wales. It is one of the world's oldest and rarest trees. Its modern relatives are Kauri, Norfolk Island, Hoop, Bunya and Monkey Puzzle pines. The Wollemi Pine belongs to the 200 million year old Araucariaceae family. The oldest know fossil Wollemi pine is 90 million years old, and may have been present from as early as the Jurassic, 200 million years ago. It grows to a bit less than 100 m tall. It is a conifer with attractive, unusual dark green foliage, bubbly bark and sprouts multiple trunks. It is  fast growing in light, prefers acid soils, and temperatures from - 5 to 45C (23 to 113F). Trials in the USA and Japan have indicated that it will survive temperatures as cold as -12C (10.4 F).

The largest wild Wollemi Pine in the rainforest gorge is 40m tall with a main trunk of 63cm in width.

"The Bill Tree", one of the oldest Wollemi Pines, could possibly be more than 1000 year old. The tree coppices, sprouting multiple trunks, so the current may be only be 400 years old but have roots that are 2000 years old.  The once widespread tree across Gondwana in the distant past, now has only 100 known adult trees remaining

Sources & Further reading

  1. Mary E. White, The Greening of Gondwana, the 400 Million Year story of Australian Plants, Reed, 1994
Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated 20/08/2018

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