Sunday, 14 December 2014

Day 43 - The Pinosaurs

Wollemi Pines (Wollemia nobilis )
in the wild
Click here to see picture from
Hi all. Today I thought I'd revisit the theme of how we can 'rally for nature'. I wanted to share a story about how a species of tree was brought back from the brink of extinction. I found out about this at Kew Gardens when I visited recently.

This tree, or if not ones very similar, would have covered much of the Earth's surface in the age of the dinosaurs. It was thought to have been extinct for millions of years until a park ranger in Australia out abseiling was puzzled by a tree in a gorge he couldn't recognise. If you know the story you'll know I'm talking about the Wollemi pine. Here's some more facts about this tree:

    Wollemi pine at Kew Gardens
  • At the point of discovery they were only known to exist in two sites in gorges in Australia, in the Wollemi National Park, discovered by park officer David Noble.
  • In 1998 there were only 40 mature trees and around 200 saplings so it was very close to extinction! 
  • Scientists at Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney confirmed it was a tree thought to have been extinct for millions of years.
  • They can live a long time, the oldest and largest one is named King Billy, it's thought to be 1000 years old...
  • Seeds were collected from the wild group of trees to grow more and preserve the species.
    Wollemi pine bark
  • To raise money for the care of the wild trees and to help make sure the species survives saplings have been sold around the world. This is really important as they could be under threat in the wild from a water mould, other diseases or fires.
  • It has a brown bubbly bark as you can see from the photo to the right. 
  • New leaves are apple green but they go blue-green as they age and some times a small bit bronze in the Autumn.
  • It produces male and female cones on the same tree.

I read at Kew that it was the breakfast of dinosaurs and it has now been helped by us to survive even longer. It is a very interesting tree and has unusual features that have probably helped it survive this long:

  • It can survive in temperature from -5 to 45 degrees Celcius, and probably colder still.
  • The trees develop lots of trunks as they get older, a natural coppice, which may be a way it tries to survive drought, fire and rockfalls.
    Fossil and living Wollemi pines
  • In the cold months it becomes dormant and forms waxy coatings on its buds. In the spring new buds grow from out of the caps. This may have helped it survive ice ages!

Now that all sounds like an amazing tree to me. Anyway here are some links to some more information on these wonderful trees:

Kew Gardens - Wollemi Pine

Hope you enjoyed,


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