Common Names: Bunya Pine, Bunya-Bunya
Distribution: Araucaria bidwillii is native to Queensland, Australia. Most of their natural range spans across a wide portion of South-eastern Queensland, with two smaller populations in the north of the state.
Growth Habit: Large vertical trees growing in excess of 150 feet in habitat. One tree measured more than 7 feet across at chest height. Deep green, prickly leaves grow along whorled branches. Beginning around 14 years of age, trees begin to form large nut-bearing cones.
Cultural Requirements: Bunya-Bunyas require plenty of moisture to germinate, and receive about 3 feet of annual rain in their natural habitat. Young trees tend to grow begin their lives at least partially under the existing forest canopy. Established adult trees thrive in full sun and are hardy into the low 20s. In certain situations these trees will require annual work by an arborist to remove the large female cones.
Uses/Features: Similar to more common Araucaria species. These trees are for gardening in a big way. Not only do they get to be large and come equipped with prickly leaves, they also grow cannonball sized cones which drop out of the tree at maturity each year. Tropical conifers, such as A. bidwillii, make majestic specimen trees and provide an aesthetic more familiar to dinosaurs than humans.
Bloom time: Flowers are insignificant. Female cones tend to fall from about September-October in Encinitas.
Where at SDBG: Rainforest garden near the lower pond.
Photos: Lisa Reynolds and Brandi Eide