Common Name: Wollemi Pine
Origin/Habitat: Wollemi National Park, in the Blue Mountains of
Threats: Poaching, disease.
Current Status: Critically endangered.
Description: This tree is not actually a pine, as the common name would suggest. It is a conifer, related to pines, but is more closely related to Auraucarias. This species was just recently discovered in 1995, in Australia, by an adventurous park ranger who had noticed some unusual trees in the distance in Wollemi National Park. It belongs to a genus of plants that had only been seen in fossil records and thought to be extinct. There are only a few hundred individuals that live in three populations not very distant from each other.
The location of these trees was not made public due to the threat of plant poaching, disturbance of the surrounding ecosystem, and the possible introduction of exotic plant species and diseases. Unfortunately word of mouth has made the location available to some, and as feared, this increase in visitation has introduced an exotic plant pathogen, Phytophthora cinammonii. This soil fungus was spread through infected foreign soils present on the soles of the shoes of trespassing hikers. This is the same soil pathogen that is attacking local avocado groves which can be spread as easily as walking from an infected grove into a non-infected grove. This serves as an example of how sensitive ecosystems and individual species are to human disturbance. Not all is lost however, as this species has been propagated and introduced to Botanic Garden collections and the horticultural trade. The remaining wild population is being closely monitored and access to them is still restricted.
Where at SDBG: Lawn Garden