The Wollemi Pine, Wollemia nobilis, is a fascinating tree, with an equally interesting history.
A native Australian tree, it was thought to be extinct for 60 million years until it was rediscovered in 1994 in the Blue Mountains, near Sydney. Its similarity with fossil records have granted it the title of “living fossil”. With fewer than 100 trees in its secret canyon location, it holds a 'critically endangered' classification, however quite a number of trees have been planted since its rediscovery, including at Trebah!
Upon its discovery, the then director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Carrick Chambers, announced: “This is the equivalent of finding a small dinosaur alive on Earth.”
In the wild, Wollemi Pines can grow over 40m and many have more than one trunk, as they are self-coppicing. This appears to be an evolutionary method of ensuring their survival and it is thought that these trees can live for hundreds of years. Their trunks feature chocolate brown bark with a bubbled texture, while their leaves are thin and vivid green in colour.
At Trebah, we're very fortunate to have a number of specimens thriving in the garden - they can be found near the Chilean Coomb, on the path joining Davidia Walk and Badger’s Walk. The first was planted in 2007 and is now approximately 5m tall, with others planted more recently, creating a prehistoric corner of the garden.
Our specimens are, at time of writing, producing cones which grow from the tip of their branches. Long cones are male and produce pollen, whereas round cones are female and produce seeds.
Be sure to check out the Wollemi Pines at Trebah and see a tree that dinosaurs once walked among.