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vert bar IN THE NEWS 2nd September 2005

THE WOLLEMI PINE

Wollemia nobilis was discovered in August 1994 by David Noble, a National Parks and Wildlife Services Officer, in the Wollemi National Park in Sydney's Blue Mountains. Sydney Botanists recognised the plant as belonging to the Monkey Puzzle tree family, Araucariaceae. Similar plants were known from fossil records, and the discovery of living plants was akin to finding a dinosaur alive on earth today.

The Wollemi Pine is a majestic conifer that grows up to 40 metres high in the wild with a trunk diameter of over one metre. It is the third living genus in the family Araucariaceae. A remarkable feature is its pattern of branching with the mature foliage having two ranks of leaves along the branches. DNA studies on all the plants that are known reveals that all individuals are just a single genetic clone. The tree is being propagated in large numbers and distributed throughout the world.

The National Botanic Gardens has received 30 trees for trialling in state-owned properties throughout the country. This will enable us to determine the hardiness of the tree in different parts of Ireland.

The tree will be commercially available from Australia in 2006.

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