Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Plant info




Sex Life

The Wollemi Pine is bisexual (monoecious), like its closest living relatives, with both male and female cones on the same tree. The round female cones produce the seeds, and the long male cones produce the pollen.

They appear on separate branches, at the very tips. The female and male cones start growing in mid-summer. In late spring the male cones release masses of pollen, which is carried by the wind, to fertilise the egg cells in the female cones. The female cones then take about 18 months to ripen, when the fertilised ovaries develop into seeds and then they fall apart high above the canyon floor, releasing winged seeds that float to the ground - research is being conducted into embryological (seed) development. If a seed falls in a suitable position and the weather is favourable it will germinate. Over time if the light conditions are right, the small seedling may grow to become a majestic emergent rainforest tree.

Each conifer seed has a scale associated with it. Like Agathis, Wollemia seeds are separate from the scale, whereas the seeds of Araucaria are attached to the scale. Both Agathis and Wollemia have winged seeds, but in Wollemia the wing encircles the seed and in Agathis the wing is one-sided - research is being conducted into seed germination.

 

 Male cone
Male (pollen) cone.

 FemaleCone.jpg
Female (seed) cone.

 Female cone
Partially dissected female cone, showing details of scale and seeds.