A Wollemi Pine in a cage
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Phriday Photo: Wollemi Pine

I was in London earlier this week for an editorial meeting with many of the Annals of Botany members. As part of it, I took my first trip to Kew. So long as you’re not thinking, you can take a pleasant stroll around the gardens in two or three hours. There’s some nice shaded paths beneath the trees and some well-sculpted displays. If you stop and start thinking “Hey! Almost every one of these trees is different from its neighbours, how much effort is it to keep them all growing and healthy?” then you’ll need days. I took a few photos there and had the odd experience of one coming out as I expected it too. Usually I take dozens and try and find one I can rescue into something viewable.

A Wollemi Pine in a cage
A Wollemi Pine at Kew Gardens.
This is a Wollemi Pine. It’s found in Australia, but not very often as there’s fewer than 100 of them in the wild. It was also, till 1994, thought to be extinct as it was only known from fossils. It wasn’t till less than 20 years ago a stand of them was found 60 miles out of Sydney. Professor Carrick Chambers, director of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, said at the time of the discovery that it was “the equivalent of finding a small dinosaur still alive on Earth”.

You can find out why it’s in a cage at Kew, or buy one for yourself at the official website.

Alun Salt

Alun (he/him) is the Producer for Botany One. It's his job to keep the server running. He's not a botanist, but started running into them on a regular basis while working on writing modules for an Interdisciplinary Science course and, later, helping teach mathematics to Biologists. His degrees are in archaeology and ancient history.

1 comment

  • The August issue of Annals of Botany carries an important paper showing that the Wollemi Pine is the most sensitive of many relic species to temperature increases, limiting its wider re-introduction.
    This paper by Offord et al. will be on-line in the next couple of weeks, with the snapshot and doi below. Meanwhile, the interest in this species is extensive – http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/search?submit=yes&y=0&fulltext=wollemi&x=0&format=standard&hits=10&sortspec=date&submit=Go – and there are some controversies, including relating to the first paper on the nature of axillary meristems in the species.

    From early July, see http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcr13
    Temperature limits for relictual rainforest Araucariaceae
    Many relictual rainforest species, such as those in the Araucariaceae, are at risk from anthropogenic climate change. Offord (pp. nnn–nnn) explores the potential effect of climate change on Australian Araucariceae by investigating the upper and lower threshold temperatures at which foliage damage occurs, and finds that high temperatures pose the greatest threat as upward temperature shifts combined with localized radiant heating may increase canopy temperatures by at least 10 °C. Wollemia nobilis is the most sensitive of the species tested, which may explain why many landscape planting sof this species have failed in hotter areas of Australia.

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