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Endangered Plant: Wollemi Pine

December 3, 2007

Wollemi Pine
Photo: Australian government biotechnology

The Wollemi Pine is one of the world’s oldest and rarest tree species, it’s a cousin to the earlier posted Bunya Pine going back some 200 million years. The largest of these Wollemi pines is about 40 m tall and its main trunk is some 63 cm in diameter. What’s staggering is the fact that they were thought to have been extinct for millions of years, yet here they are in a small remote location barely 200 Ks from Sydney. They have survives all the bush fires in their time to hang in there despite being genetically virtually indistinguishable… it seems that one tree survived, managed to keep breeding largely because they have both female and male reproductive cones on the same tree and can sprout multiple trunks from their base.

Being one of the world’s oldest and rarest trees has understandably brought this tree in to the limelight. Unfortunately despite pleas to avoid contact with these few trees (less than a hundred) and efforts to keep their location secret in order to preserve them, it appears that they have recently become infected with a potentially fatal root rot fungus (Phytophthora cinnamomi) and this has it’s thought to have been brought in by unauthorised visitors… there’s probably a couple of egocentric ‘adventurers’ who more than likely have photos of themselves; which they undoubtedly showed to their friends, at the base of these endangered trees, perhaps even a photo of them climbing them, and are now more than likely responsible for infecting and endangering these trees.

Website: The Wollemi


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