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Wollemia

Wollemia is a genus of coniferous tree in the family Araucariaceae. The Australian species Wollemia nobilis is the sole species in the genus Wollemia and was discovered in 1994 in a remote series of narrow, steep-sided sandstone gorges near Lithgow in temperate rainforest wilderness area of the Wollemi National Park in New South Wales, 150 kilometres north-west of Sydney.

In both the botanical and popular literature, the tree has been almost universally dubbed the Wollemi Pine, although it is not a true pine (genus Pinus) nor a member of the pine family (Pinaceae), but rather is related to Kauri and Araucaria in the family Araucariaceae. The oldest fossil of the Wollemi tree has been dated to 200 million years ago.[1]

Contents


Description

Wollemia nobilis branch
Wollemia nobilis branch
Wollemia nobilis is an evergreen tree reaching 25–40 m (80-112 feet) tall. The bark is very distinctive, dark brown and knobbly, quoted as resembling Coco Pops breakfast cereal.[2] The tree coppices readily, and most specimens are multi-trunked or appear as clumps of trunks thought to derive from old coppice growth. The branching is unique in that nearly all the side branches never have further branching. After a few years, each branch either terminates in a cone (either male or female) or ceases growth. After this, or when the cone becomes mature, the branch dies. New branches then arise from dormant buds on the main trunk. Rarely, a side branch will turn erect and develop into a secondary trunk, which then bears a new set of side branches.

Wollemia nobilis leaves
Wollemia nobilis leaves
The leaves are flat linear, 3–8 cm long and 2–5 mm broad. They are arranged spirally on the shoot but twisted at the base to appear in two or four flattened ranks. The seed cones are green, 6–12 cm long and 5–10 cm in diameter, and mature about 18–20 months after pollination. They disintegrate at maturity to release the seeds. The male (pollen) cones are slender conic, 5–11 cm long and 1–2 cm broad.

Discovery

Wollemia nobilis, Palmengarten, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
Wollemia nobilis, Palmengarten, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
The discovery, on or about 10 September 1994, by David Noble, a field officer of the Wollemi National Park in Wentworth Falls, in the Blue Mountains, only occurred because of his adventurous bushwalking and rock climbing abilities. Noble had good botanical knowledge, and quickly recognised the trees as unusual and worthy of further investigation. Returning with specimens, and expecting someone to be able to identify the plants, Noble soon found that they were new to science.[3] Further study would be needed to establish its relationship to other conifers. The initial suspicion was that it had certain characteristics of the 200-million-year-old family Araucariaceae, but was not similar to any living species in the family. Comparison with living and fossilised Araucariaceae proved that it was a member of that family, and it has been placed into a new genus with Agathis and Araucaria. Fossils resembling Wollemia and possibly related to it are widespread in Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica, but Wollemia nobilis is the sole living member of its genus. The last known fossils of the genus date from approximately 2 million years ago.[4] It is thus described as a living fossil, or alternatively, a Lazarus taxon.

Fewer than a hundred trees are known to be growing wild, in three localities not far apart. It is very difficult to count them as most trees are multistemmed and may have a connected root system. Genetic testing has revealed that all the specimens are genetically indistinguishable, suggesting that the species has been through a genetic bottleneck in which its population became so low (possibly just one or two individuals) that all genetic variability was lost.

In November 2005, wild-growing trees were found to be infected with Phytophthora cinnamomi. New South Wales park rangers believe the virulent water mould was introduced by unauthorised visitors to the site, whose location is still undisclosed to the public.

Cultivation and uses

Wollemia nobiliscultivated
Wollemia nobiliscultivated
A propagation programme has culminated with the Wollemi Pine available to botanical gardens first, then commercially available in Australia from 1 April 2006. It was released commercially in Western Europe in June 2006 and in the United States in December 2006. It was to be commercially released in other countries during 2006. The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia has a small (3m.+) specimen planted outdoors. It may prove to be a valuable tree for ornament, either planted in open ground or for tubs and planters. It is also proving to be more adaptable and cold-hardy than its restricted subtropical distribution would suggest, tolerating temperatures between -5°C and 45°C (23° and 113°F), with reports that it can survive down to -12°C (10°F). It also handles both full sun and full shade. Like many other Australian trees, Wollemia is susceptible to the pathogenic water mould Phytophthora cinnamomi, so this may limit its potential as a timber tree.[5]

Notes

References and external links

cs:Wollemie vznešená da:Wollemia nobilis de:Wollemie es:Wollemia eo:Wollemia nobilis fr:Wollemia nobilis hr:Australski stribor it:Wollemia nobilis lv:Dižā volēmija lt:Volemija hu:Sárkányfenyő nl:Wollemia ja:ウォレマイ・パイン no:Wollemiaslekten pl:Wollemia szlachetna pt:Wollemia ro:Wollemie ru:Воллемия sk:Wolémia sl:Volemija fi:Australianwollemia sv:Wollemitall tr:Wollemia nobilis zh:瓦勒邁杉


Wollemi Creek

The Wollemi Creek is a creek that flows in the Wollemi National Park, New South Wales, Australia.

Its beginnings are near the Putty area on the mid NE boundary of Wollemi National Park and it flows roughly from North to South and is completely contained within the National Park, much of it in very remote and difficult to access wilderness areas. The creek joins with the Colo River at the upper reaches of the Colo Gorge.


Wollemi National Park

Wollemi National Park is the second largest national park in New South Wales, and contains most of the largest wilderness area, the Wollemi Wilderness. It lies 129 kilometres northwest of Sydney, and forms part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

It contains the only known wild specimens of the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis), a species thought to have become extinct approximately thirty million years ago, but discovered alive in three small stands in 1994.

Geology

This park is located on the western edge of the Sydney Basin. It sits on four strata of sedimentary rock; the Narrabeen and Hawkesbury sandstone and shale, the Illawarra and Singleton Permian coal measures and the Wianamatta shales. The strata at this area of the Sydney Basin have an upwards tilt to the north-west. Throughout most of the park the Hawkesbury and Wianamatta series have been eroded away exposing the Narrabeen group. The landscape of the park is dominated by deep valleys, canyons, cliffs and waterfalls, formed by the weathering of the sandstone and claystone the Narrabeen group consists of. The parts of the park that lie on the Narrabeen and Hawkesbury sandstones generally have shallow soil with low nutrient levels while areas that lie on the Wianamatta shale usually have deeper and more nutrient rich soils allowing for a greater diversity of plant life. The coal measures are visible beneath cliff lines along river valleys. This layer is generally rich in nutrients and weathers to form deep clay loams. Tertiary basalt is common in the north west of the park. Basaltic peaks include Mount Coriaday, Mount Monundilla and Mount Coricudgy, the highest peak in the northern Blue Mountains. In some location the basalt in the core of extinct volcanoes has eroded faster than the surrounding sandstone.

The Colo River valley

The Colo River valley
The Wollemi National Park is key in maintaining the quality of many tributary rivers to the Hawkesbury River and Goulburn-Hunter River catchments. The national park incorporates rivers such as the Wolgan River, Colo River and Capertee River which arise from outside the park. The Colo River is regarded as the last unpolluted river in New South Wales because the majority of it flows through the Wollemi National Park.

Biology and ecology

Eucalypt dominated open forests comprise 90% of Wollemi National Park, with over 70 species of Eucalypt recorded. The remaining 10% of the National Park comprises rainforest, heath and grassland.

The variety of habitats within Wollemi National Park allow for large diversity in animals. Fifty-eight reptile species, thirty-eight frog species, two hundred and thirty-five bird species and forty-six mammal species have been recorded in the park.

As well as the Wollemi pine, the park contains populations of the rare Banksia conferta subsp. penicillata, only described in 1981.

Aboriginal Sites

There are many aboriginal sites within the park including cave paintings, axe grinding grooves and rock carvings. In 2003 the discovery of Eagle's Reach cave was publicly announced. This site was found by bushwalkers in 1995 but remained unknown to the wider community until a team from the Australian Museum reached the cave in May 2003. The art within this small cave is estimated to be up to 4,000 years old and it consists of up to a dozen layers of imagery depicting a wide variety of motifs rendered in ochre and charcoal. The team who recorded this site counted over 200 separate images, mainly of animals and birds but also stencils of hands, axes and a boomerang.

It is a very significant site and the remote location is being kept secret for its own protection.

Activities

Phipps Cutting Picnic Area on the Bylong Valley Way is an entry point for hiking

Phipps Cutting Picnic Area on the Bylong Valley Way is an entry point for hiking
Capertee River
Capertee River

Historical Places

References

See also

de:Wollemi-Nationalpark es:Parque Nacional Wollemi fr:Parc national Wollemi nl:Nationaal park Wollemi