Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Wollemi Pine research - tracking it through time

The unexpected discovery of living plants of the Wollemi Pine, a new conifer belonging to the family Araucariaceae, means we can reassess and compare a range of Araucarian fossil plants going back about 116 million years to the early Cretaceous age.

Fresh leaf material and male and female Wollemi cones (see Appearance) have now been compared with fossils from the Koonwarra beds in South Gippsland (south-east Victoria) and with fossils from other parts of eastern Australia. It seems likely that the Wollemi Pine was once present over an extensive area of eastern Australia; and possibly over a very much wider geographic range including Antarctica, New Zealand and possibly India and southern South America.

Itís also likely it was widely present over a vast time span from the Mesozoic to the Tertiary (250-1.6 million years ago).

Researchers

Professor Carrick Chambers (Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust)

Dr Andrew Drinnan (University of Melbourne, School of Botany)

Dr Stephen McLaughlin (University of Melbourne, School of Botany)

Dr Michael Macphail, Australian National University (Archaeology and Natural History)

Related research

Cretaceous coniferals of Alexander Island, Antarctica. Leaves, reproductive structures and roots

Cretaceous coniferals of Alexander Island, Antarctica. Wood taxonomy

wollemi-trunk.jpg
Cross section of fallen trunk of Wollemi Pine showing growth rings used to determine the age of the trunk.