Wollemi nobilis
Wollemia nobilis
CopyrightStone Museum of Geology

Hitherto known only from the fossil record from 90 million years ago, the Wollemi Pine represents an ancient family of trees that date back to the Jurassic period. Part of the Araucariaceae it shares some characteristics with the Norfolk Island Pine and Chile Pine (better known as the Monkey Puzzle), themselves survivors of the super-continent of Gondwanaland that fragmented to form the present day continents of Australasia, Africa, South America and Antarctica.

Discovered in 1994 in a deep impenetrable gorge west of Sydney by Australian National Parks Officer, David Noble, a grove of 100 of these trees represent the only known living specimens in the world. To ensure their conservation, the location of the gorge is being kept a closely guarded secret and following propogation by the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney, specimens are now being made available around the world.

Although not strictly a "pine" it is an evergreen tree that can develop both male and female cones on its branches and becomes sexually mature when between 9 and 15 years of age. Young growth is a light apple-green very similar to the genus Metasequoia but when mature develop into tough blue-green leaves more reminiscent of the cycad family.

Unlike most conifers, the Wollemi has a habit of coppicing - developing multiple stems - and the bark, as the tree matures, displays a "bubbling" effect that from a distance makes the trunk resemble one of the tree-ferns found across Australasia.

The largest wild Wollemi Pine is 40m tall with a main trunk of 1.2m wide.


The photographs below show this year's new growth:-
New Growth 2007
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During winter the Wollemi Pine becomes dormant and its growing buds develop a white waxy coating to protect its growing tips.

New Growth 2007
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New frond developing from the growing bud at the top of the plant.

Male Cone 2015
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Female Cone 2015
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Male pine cone (left) and Female cone (right) developing at the tip of a branch. The Wollemi Pine is bisexual (monoecious) with both male and female cones on the same tree. The long male cones, shown here, produce pollen and round female cones produce the seeds. The male and female cones appear on the tips of separate branches during summer and in late spring the male cones release masses of pollen to fertilise the egg cells in the female cones. The female cones then take about 18 months to ripen and release winged seeds.

Ripe cones 2020
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Seeds 2020
CopyrightStone Museum of Geology

Ripe Male pine cone (left) and Female cone (right) after dropping seeds. The four female cones on our tree has produced several hundred seeds but - according to the Royal Horticultural Society - the germination rate of Woollemi seeds is very low, only around 10%.

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