Light green, needle-like leaves of Wollemi pine

Wollemia nobilis

Wollemi pine

Family: Araucariaceae
Other common names: Wollemie vznešená (Czech), wolemie vznešená (Czech), wollemia (Danish), wollemia (English), Australianwollemia (Finnish), arbre de wollemi (French), wollemie (German), βολλέμια (Greek), ウォレミマツ (Japanese), воллемия (Russian), pino de wollemi (Spanish)
IUCN Red List status: Critically Endangered
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The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is the world’s most comprehensive source of information on the global conservation status of species. In the IUCN Red List this species is placed in the category: Critically Endangered – facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

The extraordinary wollemi pine dates back to the time of the dinosaurs.

This living fossil was thought to be extinct for two million years until a small population was discovered in the Blue Mountains of Australia in 1994.

Today, the species is critically endangered and restricted to fewer than 100 trees in Wollemi National Park, Australia.

Wollemi pines live for an extremely long time, some of the oldest living trees around today are thought to be between 500 and 1,000 years old.

Evergreen coniferous tree with needle-like leaves. Light green, young leaves become a yellowish-dark green colour with age. The bark has a rough surface and branches bear cones. Male and female cones occur on the same tree; female cones appear on higher branches and are much more rounded than the narrow male cones. Seeds are paper thin, winged, and brown.

Read the scientific profile on wollemi pine

Cultural

Wollemi pine is a prized ornamental plant, well suited to north-facing gardens and shaded conservatories.

  • The last wollemi pines in the wild live in a remote gorge of the Wollemi National Park, Australia.

  • On 16 January 2020, firefighters saved the last wollemi pines left in the wild from the Gospers Mountain fire.

  • The wollemi pine is sometimes called a 'Lazarus taxon'; like the man Lazarus whom Jesus brought back from the dead in the Bible, these trees were thought to be extinct but then a few surviving members were discovered.

  • One of the wollemi pine’s closest living relatives is the monkey puzzle tree.

  • The Duke of Edinburgh planted one of two wollemi pines near the Orangery at Kew for our 250th anniversary in 2009.

Native: New South Wales
Habitat:

Forests in gorges. Grows best in shallow, acidic, free-draining soil on sandstone in a sheltered position. Likes plenty of water during the growing season.

Kew Gardens

A botanic garden in southwest London with the world’s most diverse living plant collection.

Location

Near the Orangery and Temperate House

View map of Kew Gardens
Best time to see
Foliage: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec
Seeds: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

Wakehurst

Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex that has over 500 acres of plants from around the world and is home to the Millennium Seed Bank.

Location

Coates wood,  Southern Hemisphere Garden

View map of Wakehurst
Best time to see
Foliage: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec
Seeds: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

The wollemi pine is classified as critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List.

These pines are limited to just two sites in Wollemi National Park in New South Wales, Australia. Due to their small population size and limited range, they are at imminent risk of extinction by a chance event such as a fire or disease.

Scientists at Kew identified the most Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered species of gymnosperms (naked-seed-bearing plants that include ginkgos, conifers, cycads, and gnetophytes) using the EDGE method.

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This method ranks species based on their evolutionary distinctiveness and the extinction risks they face according to IUCN Red List assessments.

The wollemi pine has the highest EDGE score on the EDGE list for gymnosperms.

To conserve this species, the trees have been propagated and planted in botanic gardens around the world. 

Our wild botanic garden in Wakehurst has 15 of the first ever wollemi pines introduced to the UK in the Coates Wood

In 2005, a batch of wollemi pines was sent from Australia to Kew for hardiness trials.  They were grown in soils with differing pH values. Those planted in acidic soil did the best. 

After the trials finished in 2008, the pines were planted in the Arboretum at Kew.

We collect seeds from the cones of the mature wollemi pine trees in our gardens, to either grow more seedlings or add to the seeds stored in the Millennium Seed Bank, which will help protect this incredible species for future generations.

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