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14 Apr 2020

Wollemi Pine citizen science survey growing global

Hundreds of people around the world are helping Wollemi Pine researchers understand more about Australia's ancient pine by completing the I Spy A Wollemi Pine citizen science survey. 
Wollemi pines growing in Coates wood, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

I Spy A Wollemi Pine 

Since it was discovered in 1994 growing deep in a canyon in the Blue Mountains, the curious conifer has became available to many parts of the world. Wollemi Pines can now be found growing in parks, gardens and backyards across the globe. 

The I Spy A Wollemi Pine citizen science survey was launched in December 2019 by Dr Cathy Offord based at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan and Dr Heidi Zimmer from the NSW Department of Energy, Environment and Science.

Dr Offord and Dr Zimmer are trying to identify the hottest, coldest, wettest and driest places where Wollemi Pines can grow to gain important insights into the environmental tolerances of this special tree. 

In just four months, the survey has received 850 responses from 28 countries describing Wollemi Pines growing in gardens and parks around the world. It's a great result considering there are fewer than 100 mature Wollemi Pines growing in their secret location in the wild. 

"This means we are about 80% of the way to meeting our goal of 1000 responses and there is still three months to go," Dr Offord said.

"We’ve had responses from people who have been growing their Wollemi Pines for 25 years, people who got one for Christmas last year and everything inbetween," said Dr Offord. 

The majority of responses so far have been from Australia (410), the UK (351), USA (27), New Zealand (6), Canada (6) and Germany (6).

"There has been one response from Peru and Japan, but we'd love to hear more from people in the Americas, Asia and Africa, so our study can have truly global coverage," said Dr Offord. 

Survey insights so far

Most Wollemi Pines that grow in the wild have more than one trunk - some even grow more than 20. It's a unique survival trick called ‘self-coppicing,’ which helps the tree survive if its other trunks are damaged. 

According to the survey results so far, the average Wollemi Pine growing in parks and gardens around the world only has one trunk. Some of the biggest Wollemi Pines in the wild are 43 metres tall. However, the survey reveals that the average height of Wollemi Pines spotted by people in parks and gardens across the globe is just 2.6 metres. 

Seen a Wollemi Pine growing in a park or garden? 

Whether you’re an avid gardener with your own tree , staff of a botanic garden with a Wollemi Pine in its collection, or an observant visitor to a park with a pine, please complete the I Spy A Wollemi Pine survey. Please also share it with your friends - especially if you’ve got friends in the Americas, Asia and Africa!

You can also learn more about Wollemi Pine research projects or listen the Garden's Branch Out podcast episode featuring Dr Offord below. 

Category: News
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