What is it?
The Wollemi Pine is one of the world's oldest and rarest tree species belonging to a 200 million-year-old plant family.
It was known from fossil records and presumed extinct until it was discovered in 1994 by a bushwalker in the Wollemi National Park just outside Australia's largest city,
Sydney. Dubbed the botanical find of the century, the Wollemi Pine is now the focus of extensive research to conserve this ancient species.
Soon you will be able to grow your own Wollemi Pine and be part of one of the most dramatic comebacks in natural history.
What do they look like?
The Wollemi Pine is a majestic conifer that grows up to 40 metres high in the wild with a trunk diameter of over one metre.
It has unusual pendulous foliage with light apple green new tips in spring and early summer contrasting against the older dark green foliage.
Another unique feature is its pattern of branching with the mature foliage having two ranks of leaves along the branches.
Its bark is also distinct even from related species, looking very much like bubbling chocolate.
The Wollemi Pine's closest living relatives are the Norfolk Island Pine, Bunya Pine, Hoop Pine, Monkey Puzzle Pine and Kauri Pine.
See Photo Gallery
Where did the name come from?
The Wollemi Pine is named after the Wollemi National Park,
the location where the Pines were first discovered in Sydney's now World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains.
Wollemi is an Aboriginal word meaning "look around you, keep your eyes open and watch out".
The scientific name Wollemia nobilis is a reflection of the Pine's majestic qualities and honours David Noble who found the first trees in 1994.
Where are they?
The Wollemi Pine was discovered as a small grove of seedlings and mature trees only 200 kilometres west of Sydney (Australia) in the Wollemi National Park.
Since then, two other small groves have been discovered. The Pines are growing on moist ledges in a deep rainforest gorge surrounded by rugged mountains and undisturbed forest.
The exact location of the Pines is a closely kept secret because of the pristine and fragile nature of the wild habitat.
Only select researchers are permitted to visit the area on rare occasions.
How were they found?
The Wollemi Pine was discovered in August 1994 by David Noble,
a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services Officer who, when trekking and abseiling with friends,
noticed the unusual nature of the Pine and took a small fallen branch home for identification.
A team of experienced botanists later declared the strange specimen a new genus with ancient lineage,
making it a scientific discovery of international significance.
How old are they?
Some of the older adult Wollemi Pines such as "The Bill Tree"
may be more than 1000 years old. Due to the Wollemi Pine's habit
of sprouting multiple trunks (called coppicing) the current trunk
of "The Bill Tree" may only be up to 400 years old but
the tree's roots could have been around since the time of the
Roman Empire. Although less than 100 adult trees remain, they were
thought to be widespread across Gondwana, an ancient supercontinent
that existed before Australia broke off from Antarctica and began
its movement north. The oldest known Wollemi Pine type fossil dates
back 90 million years and it is believed that the Pines may have
existed since the Jurassic period 200 million years ago. Before
the Pine was rediscovered in 1994, it was presumed extinct for around
two million years.
Are they protected?
Since the survival of the Pines in the wild depends on their isolation,
the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service have put regulations in place to minimise visits to the site and have developed a conservation strategy to protect the Pines from human activity including fire.
The cultivation and worldwide release of the Pine is a key component of the conservation strategy.
The Wollemi Pine has also been listed under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 as well as the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.
How can we help conserve the Wollemi Pine?
Horticultural experts believe that growing the Wollemi Pine in pots or in gardens and parks everywhere is one of the best forms of insurance
against loss in the wild. As royalties from Wollemi Pine sales will
fund ongoing conservation research, buying a Pine will not only
help to protect the species but will also safeguard its continued
How do I see a Wollemi Pine?
Although only a select few researchers are permitted to see the
Wollemi Pine in the wild, members of the public can view the propagated
- Royal Botanic Gardens (Sydney, NSW)
- Mount Annan Botanic Gardens (south-west Sydney, NSW)
- Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens (Blue Mountains, NSW)
- Taronga Park Zoo (Sydney, NSW)
- Botanic Gardens (Adelaide and Mt Lofty, SA)
- Australian National Botanic Garden (Canberra, ACT)
- Royal Tasmanian Botanical Garden (Hobart, TAS)
- Kings Park and Botanic Garden (Perth, WA)
- Southbank Parklands (Brisbane, QLD)
- Roma Street Parkland (Brisbane, QLD)
- Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (London, UK)
- Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (Scotland)
- Royal Botanic Gardens Glasnevin (Dublin, Ireland)
- Belgium National Botanic Gardens (Brussels, Belgium)
- Hortus Botanicus (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
- Vienna Botanic Gardens (Vienna, Austria)
- Frankfurt Pamengarten (Frankfurt, Germany)
- Disneyland Tokyo (Japan)
- Taiwan National Museum (Taipei, Taiwan)
- Kingsbrae Garden (St Andrews, NB, Canada)
What is Wollemi Australia Pty Ltd?
Wollemi Australia Pty Ltd is a subsidiary company of Forestry Plantations Queensland, the principal commercial plantation forest grower in Queensland. The Botanic Gardens Trust (Sydney) has licensed Wollemi Australia Pty Ltd to propagate and market the Wollemi Pine in Australia and internationally. A key conservation strategy of the Wollemi Pine Recovery Plan is to protect the wild population of these unique plants to ensure Wollemi Pines are growing in gardens, homes, and parks around the world.
Forestry Plantations Queensland has harnessed the horticultural talent and expertise of Queensland's public sector to successfully propagate the Wollemi Pine since 1999 and during this eight years has developed a range of products including Wollemi Pine tissue culture.
Feedback from Wollemi Enthusiasts:
"Your work on the Wollemi Pine is of great service to our understanding of earth's natural history and will hopefully raise awareness on the importance of preserving the fragile natural environment common to us all."
Home Gardener, Switzerland
"I would love our students to have the opportunity to grow one of these very special trees and observe its growth and development."
"To know where we are going as a planet we need to understand where we come from.
Wollemi Pine is the link between the past and the present. It should now be part of our future."
Home Gardener, Canada
"Clearly one of the most beautiful tree species ever seen as well as one of the most botanically fascinating.
Should be grown by plant lovers everywhere!"
Home Gardener, California