The Bunya Pine - Araucaria bidwillii
Commonly known as the Bunya Pine, Araucaria bidwillii is a large evergreen pine native to south-east Queensland Australia. It was named in honour of botanist John Carne Bidwill, who discovered it for western science 1842. 

Despite both its looks and common name it is not a true pine botanically speaking, but instead a member of the the same genus as the monkey puzzle tree - Araucaria araucana. This is why it can sometimes be known the 'false monkey puzzle tree'.

The Bunya Pine is the last surviving species of the never-heard-of Section Bunya of the genus Araucaria. This section was once diverse and widespread during the Mesozoic period with some of these ancient species having cone morphology similar to today's modern Araucaria bidwillii, which itself has been found amongst Jurassic Fossils found in South America and Europe.

As interesting as the history of the Bunya pine is, if you are able to purchase one of these living relics, how do you grow Araucaria bidwillii - the Bunya Pine. An important start is to know the native environmental conditions that it thrives in which are rich volcanic soils in moist valleys at low elevations near the coast. But make sure you have enough space to cultivate it as specimens are know to grow up to 40 metres in height

This species is hardy to about -5°c, with occasional lows to -8°c, but it can to be killed in severe winters. This species is wind pollinated and once mature you can expect the Bunya pine to bloom in June, and any seeds produced to ripen from September to October. 

It will be quite happy growing in most well-drained soil types so long as the ground remains moist throughout the year, but not waterlogged. When young it will require additional watering during periods of drought.

It isn't really considered hardy in any areas of the United Kingdom except for the most mild (including coastal) regions of the south and south-west, but even then it can be at risk.

No comments: