Wollemi Pine - A Living Fossil
An officer from the National Parks and Wildlife Service stumbled upon an usual group of trees at the end of a box canyon in the Blue Mountains about 200 mile from Sydney, Australia. A group of trees thought to be extinct for 150 million years. The fossil record shows that this tree, Wollemi Pine, once covered most of Australia and flourished when Dinosaurs roamed the continent.
Wollemi Pine looks unusual too, something right out of Jurassic Park. With fern like leaves and bark textured like the skin of a Dinosaur, Wollemi Pine is like no other tree on earth. Wollemi Pine trees grow in clumps sometimes 100 or more trees at a time. One of the trees will establish dominance over the others and grow to 150 feet or more. Like other pine species, Wollemi Pine branches for the main trunk, but unlike other species, branches do not continue branching. Instead, they die off or form a cone at the tip. 1,000 years old.
Wollemi Pine Tree Propagation
Scientists estimate that only 200 trees exist in the park. Some believe that there actually may be only one tree with an interconnected root system with child trees growing form the same root. As Wollemi Pine cones mature, they open and wind pollinate the forest floor. Wollemi Pines are "monoicous", (bisexual), and have both male and female cones, (the female cones always appear above the male cones on the plant). In 2008, the Australian Botanical gardens initiated a propagation program hoping to establish the species and create biodiversity within its genome. As growers plant experimental groves worldwide, Wollemi has proved to be more cold tolerant than once believed. Some of these new groves are planted as far north as Scotland and the Northern part of British Columbia, Canada. The oldest Wollemi Pine tree currently growing in the park are believed to be over
Wollemi pine seed needs to be soaked in room temperature water for a day or two. As a general rule, seeds that sink will have a higher germination rate than seeds that float. Wollemi seeds do not need to be stratified (placed in a refrigerator at a consistent cold temperature) before planting. Wollemi seeds should be towel dried and then planted in soil immediately. Like most conifers, Wollemi seeds germinate and grow best in a sol that is slightly acidic. Planting Wollemi pine seeds in a standard nursery tree seedling propagation tray should work perfectly. Germination can occur in as little as six weeks, but longer germination cycles are common.