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The FamilyThe Family

Habitat and Growing ConditionsHabitat and Growing Conditions

Unique CharacteristicsUnique Characteristics



Special PropertiesSpecial Properties


UK TrialsUK Trials

The Family

The Wollemi Pine is the only species in the third living genus (Wollemia) of the conifer family Araucariaceae. It has features in common with the other living genera Agathis and Araucaria as well as with Cretaceous and early Tertiary fossil groups such as Araucarioides.

Habitat and Growing Conditions

The Wollemi Pine grows to a height of 40 metres in its natural habitat with a trunk diameter of over one metre. The Pines have grown in temperatures from -5 to 45°C and are expected to withstand even cooler temperatures. They are fast growing, respond well to light and favour acid soils. The Wollemi Pines produced from seeds and cuttings from the wild population are growing rapidly and averaging about half a metre in height a year.

Unique Characteristics

The Pine's habit of spontaneously sprouting multiple trunks from its base (known as self-coppicing) has proved a vital defense in withstanding damage through fire and other natural disasters. Another unusual characteristic of the Pine, common to the Araucaria genus, is its habit of shedding whole branches rather than individual leaves. The distinct bark which resembles bubbling chocolate is also unique to the Wollemi Pine.



Research has not yet revealed genetic variation within or between the Wollemi Pine populations. In fact, there is very low genetic variation within the whole family of Araucariaceae. Scientists believe that this may prove that it is possible to have exceptionally low variability and yet survive the ravages of bush fires, the ice age, dinosaurs, and the movement of continents.


Like its closest living relatives, the Wollemi Pine is bisexual with both female and male reproductive cones on the same tree. The male and female cones are found at the very tips of the branches, with the majority of the female cones at the top of the trees.

Special Properties

A fungus found on the leaves of some of the Wollemi Pines in the wild produces small quantities of a chemical known as Taxol - an anti cancer agent. However, the amount of Taxol found on the Wollemi Pines is too small to be used for medicinal purposes. Previously, Taxol has been found on other tree species, mostly from the Taxis genus (e.g. Yew Trees).



The aim of releasing the Wollemi Pine is to safeguard its long term survival by removing the threat of visits to the wild population.

As seeds from the wild population are difficult and dangerous to collect, and collection poses the threat of damage to the trees, propagation is being carried out vegetatively from young plants grown from the original seeds and cuttings from the Wollemi Pines in the wild.

With the aid of the latest propagation techniques the Wollemi Pine will be available to as a stunning patio/indoor plant as well as an attractive tree for parks and large gardens for delivery in August / September 2006.


UK Trials

Nearly 1 year ago, 15 Wollemi Pines were planted in three different secret locations in the arboretum at Kew Gardens to test how the trees discovered in Australia would fair in the UK climate.

Each tree has been planted in identical conditions and without any form of protection to help it weather what has been one of the coldest winters for many years in the south of England. The temperature has fallen well below zero on many occasions since the trials began; on one night in February 2006 the air temperature fell to minus 6.2°C and previously in November 2005 the ground temperature was recorded at minus 11.9°C.

The Wollemi Pine has demonstrated great resilience and the trees appear to have endured these temperatures without any detriment to their growth and apical shoots. This is partly due to the early production of polar caps to protect the delicate growing regions through the Autumn/Winter seasons. Tony Kirkham, head of Kew’s arboretum, says, “Some of the trees have shown some bronzing of the foliage, but most have retained the green/blue shades of foliage colour. I am sure that once the spring temperatures begin to rise, all of the trees will begin to grow without any loss of leaves.”

Each month accurate measurements and observations are made of each plant, the results of which will be published when the trial is completed in September 2006.


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