Wollemi Pine

wollumi.jpg‘Santa’ surprised me at Christmas with the gift of a potted Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis). This particular species is an ancient and rare Australian native that was recently discovered. The location of the pines has been kept secret to prevent people taking seedlings and damaging the forest. Plants available from nurseries have been reproduced by tissue culture. Each tree comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and a monthly care guide.
Unlike most pines, this living fossil from the Jurassic age has flattened leaflets that grow more in the manner of fern fronds than pine branches. The Wollemi pine also tends to grow with multiple trunks. New growth is pinky-bronze, changing to apple green, then deep green. After the age of 7 years, it will produce both male and female cones at the tips of the branches. ‘Polar caps’ form to protect the growing tips from cold weather. And, sap oozing from the stem is not a sign of disease but an indication that a new growth bud is about to emerge from the bark.
I will put my pine into a larger pot for the time being; as I need to have a serious think about where it should be planted. It is said to require a “well-drained, fertile soil” but, as Wollemi Pines prefer a low phosphorus fertiliser, planting the tree amid exotics that have high fertiliser requirements would not be an option. They can grow, at the rate of half a metre per annum to 20 m x 5 m. As our house was built on a stony ridge, the best positions for this tree would be some distance from the house. They will grow in part shade to full sun, are quite water-efficient, and can be pruned, if necessary, during winter.
However, as these pines can also be grown as tub plants in a sheltered position, out of full sun, I may eventually decide to grow it in a tub, near the house, so that I can enjoy its unusual foliage and growth habit through the seasons.
The Wollemi pine, Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba), California Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea) and the Asian and Australian cycads and their relatives (Cycas, Bowenia, Lepidozamia and Macrozamia) all provide a fascinating insight into our planet’s flora long before man walked the earth. These trees have proven their adaptability over thousands of years and some, including the Calfornia Redwood, grow to more modest proportions in our climate. Many of these lovely plants are suitable for cultivation in gardens or parks, especially if they are grown organically to maintain a good level of soil micro-organism activity.

7 thoughts on “Wollemi Pine

  1. I can see this is a fairly old page, but if anyone can help me I’d be very grateful. I’m making an organic shark-deterring surf wax here in Maslin Beach, South Australia, & I’m trying to source Organic Pine Tree Resin. Any help would be gratefully received. Thanks, Neil.
    Neil, perhaps the Forestry Commission or similar authority would be more likely to steer you in the right direction. – Lyn

  2. The “tree” is an evergreen? it looks like a fern?? is this a silverfern like the one’s in New Zealand?
    No Mary, the lovely New Zealand Silver Fern is Cyathea dealbata – a member of the tree fern family, not a pine. – Lyn

  3. What a lovely christmas pressie. We have a potted Wollemi Pine and used it as our Christmas tree for the last 2 years. I plan to keep it in a pot forever…It should outlive me! I love the Wollemi PIne story…It amazes me that we can have such a huge species sitting on Sydneys doorstep undiscovered until only recently…I also love that the Wollemi Pine raises awareness regarding threatened species. It would be great to see everyone using Wollemi PInes as Christmas Trees…Cheers, Tricia

  4. Hopefully you will do a better job of keeping yours alive than the National Botanic Gardens did! Your book has sold out on WAHMania. I guess this is good for you – not for me. Will have to hunt it down elsewhere. Cheers, Lily. (One of Cara’s online buddies)
    Try Warm Earth at http://www.warmearth.com.au – they may still have some copies. Lyn

  5. I used to have one of these lovely trees but my cows got ahold of it in the paddock. I will be replacing mine though. They make a most beautiful tree and will grow into a beautiful reminder of what they were like all that long ago.


  6. I have just found your blog. Thanks for all the great information.

    I was given a Wollemi Pine last year for Christmas and this year we used it as our front porch Christmas tree.
    I keep it in a pot next to my front door so I can admire it everytime I leave the house. They are a lovely tree.


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