Monday, March 1, 2010


The National Tree of Chile - the Araucarias are a family of large coniferous trees that grow in many regions around the world. They have been around for more than 200 million years though now they are mostly confined to the Southern Hemisphere.
Most Araucarias are easy to grow from fresh seed.
When young keep the area around the tree clear of weeds and turf which can stunt the growth.

Araucaria angustifolia ( Parana Pine )
Native to the plateau of southern Brazil and neighboring Paraguay and Argentina where it once formed extensive forests however it is now rare due to the exploitation of its lumber. Threatened with extinction in the wild but makes an excellent ornamental landscape tree for its thick reptilian branches. In warm moist climates, the Parana Pine is a rapid growing tree reaching over 150 feet. The largest on record is 230 x 40 feet with a trunk diameter of 12.4 feet. Older trees have a tall bare trunk and a huge spreading flat crown giving them a mushroom like appearance. The Parana Pine is also very long lived living up to 1017 years. It even grows well in parts of California where one has reached 70 x 56 feet in Montecito despite being much drier than its native range.
Fast growing some records include: 24 feet in 6 years & 73 feet in height with a trunk diameter of 15 inches in 31 years.
The long leaves are flat and do not overlap, are sharp pointed and reach up to 2.2 x 0.5 inches. They are lush dark green and form 2 rows on the branches.
The cones reach up to about 5 x 6 inches in size with stiff tips on the scales.
Hardy zones 8 to 12 ( possibly to zone 7 including a large tree growing at Atlanta Botanical Gardens in Georgia ).

* historic archive photo

Vigorous growing. Leaves are long and broad.

Araucaria araucana ( Monkey Puzzle )
The National Tree of the country of Chile; this is one of the most beautiful as well as most unique of all trees. In its native habitat in southern Chile and Argentina; it forms forests at elevations up to 6000 feet. The Monkey Puzzle is easy to grow as well as very adaptable and has been introduced to many parts of the world where it is a popular landscape tree, especially in western Europe including the British Isles as well as the Pacific Northwest region of North America to as far north as the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia. Though not thoroughly tested it can grow in parts of the eastern U.S. however the excessive hot humid summers tend to slow its growth. A sizable tree in Bethesda, Maryland is proof of its success in the Mid Atlantic. Another tree of 25 x 16 feet in known to grow in New Jersey and an extremely healthy tree is reported in Norfolk, VA. In the Deep South a 65 x 40 foot tree with a 3 foot diameter is reported from Alabama.
On the west coast it is common in Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle and is known to exceed 75 feet in Portland. In California there grows a tree with a 6 foot trunk diameter. The furthest north it is known to grow in Europe is in Alesund, Norway where a 40 foot tree is reported. The Monkey Puzzle can reach well over 100 feet in height. The largest on record is 170 x 80 feet with a trunk diameter of 10 feet! Some other growth rates include: 10 years - 22 x 10 feet; 20 years - 30 x 20 feet; 60 years - 100 feet with a trunk diameter of 26 inches; 150 years - 140 x 45 feet. An extremely long lived tree, it can live up to 2000 years. Seedlings can reach up to 1 feet in height on the 3rd year. Young trees are symmetrical and pyramidal with upward curved branches while old trees develop a broad mushroom head.
The leaves are very rigid and sharply pointed, up to 2.5 x 1.2 inches in size and densely overlapping making the branchlets up to 7 feet long appear like thick ropes. They remain green up to 15 years.
The rounded seed cones are 3 to 6 inches in diameter. The nuts inside the seed cones are edible and the Araucana has potential as a commercial nut tree in cool summer climates where other most other nut trees will not grow.
Hardy zones 6b to 9; the Araucana can tolerate as low as -18 F
Tolerant of salt spray, it can be planted by the sea.
While Chile has done a much better job protecting its natural heritage than most countries around the globe; this tree that has been around since prehistoric times is still threatened in the wild. In December 2000 forest fires wiped out 112 000 acres of Araucaria in southern Chile then in 2003 forest fires burnt and charred 71 percent of Malleco National Preserve.

* photos from unknown internet source

* photo taken on May 4 2013 in Baltimore Co., MD

* photo taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC

* photo taken on July 25 2015 @ Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

* historical archive photos

Araucaria bidwillii ( Bunya Bunya )

Native to Australia this very beautiful large tree is very symmetrical and pyramidal in habit. Very rare in its native range, it only grows in 2 tiny plateau areas in Queensland. Fossilized versions of this tree are found in Europe and South America.
It is rapid growing and has already reached up to 135 feet in height in the U.S. at Sacramento, California. The largest tree ever recorded is much larger at 176 x 55 feet with a trunk diameter of 7.6 feet. Some growth rates recorded include: 20 years - 80 feet; 30 years - 110 feet; 60 years - 150 feet in height with a trunk diameter of 4.5 feet. The Bunya Bunya is long lived and can live up to 600 years.
The glossy dark green leaves are sharp pointed and up to 2 inches long and are arranged in 2 rows along the branchlets.
In about 10 years the female tree begins bearing up to 50 pounds of tasty nutritious nuts. The nuts are contained inside large seed cones that are up to 12 x 8 inches in size and up to 10 ibs and are the largest of all the Araucarias. The cones often shatter apart when they fall from the tree canopy and hit the ground. The Aboriginal Natives roasted the seeds and ate them.
Growing in areas with 36 to 80 inches of rainfall ( or drier climates if regularily irrigated ); the Bunya Bunya is hardy from zones 8 to 11 and can tolerate as low as 10 F. Very easy to grow; it is not bothered by pests or diseases.
It is known to grow as far south as Hobert, Australia & Christchurch, NZ and also grow in Europe to as far north as Lisbon, Portugal.

* photos taken on Jan 3 2011 @ Deerfield Beach Arboretum, Florida

* photos taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

* Santiago, Chile

* historical archive photos

Araucaria columnaris ( Cooks Pine )
While there are many Araucarias native to New Caledonia; this is the only one commonly planted in other areas around the world.
It is a dense, tall and narrow columnar tree and its short side branches are crowded and not whorled. Easily exceeding 150 feet at maturity; the largest on record is 300 x 30 feet with a trunk diameter of 4.1 feet! The fastest growth rate recorded is 4 feet and in 50 years it can grow to as much as 105 feet in height with a trunk diameter of 2 feet.
The branchlets look like ropes to 0.7 inches thick but are actually made of wide, dull tipped very closely overlapped dark green leaves.
The tenis ball sized seed cones are bristly.
Hardy zones 9 to 12.

* historic archive photos

* photo of unknown internet source

Has silver foliage.

Araucaria cunninghamia
A common tree in eastern Australia where it is native from New South Wales north to the northern tip of Queensland. Fast growing, it forms a mature sized tree well over 60 feet in 30 years and 100 feet in about 60 years. The largest Hoop Pine ever recorded is 240 x 55 feet with a 13 foot trunk diameter. Some recorded growth rates include: 6 years - 23 feet with a trunk diameter of 5 inches and the fastest recorded growth rate is 6.6 feet. The Hoop Pine is also a long lived tree living up to 450 years.
Mature trees typically have long ascending branches with dense clusters of foliage at the ends. The foliage is very dark green and very prickly and up to 6 inches on juvenile trees becomine very small and overlapping densely on old trees.
The bark is dark gray with bands ( "hoops" ) encircling the trunk.
Often planted on plantations in Queensland, Australia; this tree is very valuable for its pale, soft lumber.
Prefering moist humid subtropical climates with 72 + inches of rainfall; the Hoop Pine is hardy from zone 8b to 12 and can survive temperatures as low as 10 F. While it can tolerate dry winters, it needs good summer rainfall.

* historic archive photo

silvery blue leaves.

Vigorous with longer leaves.

Weeping branchlets.

Very densely branched but not clustered

Araucaria heterophylla ( Norfolk Island Pine )
Only native to the tiny Norfolk Islands in the Pacific Oceans where it is a dominent rainforest tree; the Norfolk Island is one of the most commonly planted conifers in tropical regions around the world as well as a popular house plant for sunny interiors. It is a tall pyramidal tree that can grow huge, up to 200 feet in height. The largest tree ever recorded is 300 x 60 feet with a trunk diameter of 12.7 feet!
It also grows large well outside its native range with trees already 160 feet tall with diameter to 7 feet in New Zealand and a tree of 150 feet in height and 3.5 feet in diameter in Jalapa, Mexico. Some other records include: 90 years - trunk diameter of 4 feet.
In England a 100 foot tree grows on the Scilly Isles; however winters anywhere else on the British Isles are too cold restricting the Norfolk Island Pine to house plant and shopping mall status.
This tree grows very well near the seashore and still keeps its symmetrical forms with whorled branches and a pyramidal habit even with constant salt laden winds. A fast grower some records include: 10 years - 40 feet; 16 years - 66 x 13 feet; 67 years - 137 feet with a trunk diameter of 20 inches; 140 years - 4.5 feet in diameter. The Norfolk Island Pine can live up to 300 years.
The leaves are lush dark green and spruce like but shorter and softer.
Very drought tolerant ( once established ) as well as tolerant of salt and soil PH as long as well drained; it can also thrive on deep sand and tolerate shade when young. The Norfolk Island Pine however is not tolerant of pollution.
Generally considered hardy to zone 10 and warmer; it can be grown in zone 9 and tolerate 20 F - if protected from freezes and excessive winter wind until 13 feet in height when young. One tree is known to have survived and even thrive for over 130 years in Cornwall, England.

* Santiago, Chile

* photo taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

* historical archive photos

Blue-green foliage

More vigorous and stronger growing. Darker green foliage.

Foliage up to 1.7 inches in length; looks like A. cunninghamia

* picture below is actually A. columnaris however Araucaria heterophylla foliage is almost identical; difference is in the shape of the tree itself

Araucaria hunsteinii ( Klinki Pine )
Native to a few highland regions of New Guinea; this massive fast growing conifer is the tallest tree known to the tropical world. The Klinki Pine can reach up to 300 feet in height with its dark brown trunk up to 12 feet in diameter!!!
Its habit it more narrow and openly branches but otherwise similar looking to A. bidwallii including its foliage which is broad and up to 6 inches in length.
Hardy from zones 9 to 12 it prefers cool upland tropical areas. It also does grow in the hot humid lowlands but will not be nearly as long lived. The Klinki Pine is endangered with extinction in its native New Guinea and should be much more planted around the world in areas it is adapted.

Araucaria luxurians ( Coast Araucaria )
Native to the southern coast of New Caledonia where it is common in places. This pine with the slightly drooping tips of its branches and its symmetrical strongly columnar habit when young is a very ornamental tree that can reach up to 100 feet in height.
It has thicker branchlets composed of more loosely overlapping leaves than the very similar A. columnaris. The foliage is deep green.
Hardy zones 9 to 12, it thrives in humid tropical climates including southern Florida.

* photo of unknown internet source

Araucaria muelleri

Native to the mountains of southern New Guinea; this very vigorous conifer has a distinct candelabra form and reaches up to 100 feet in height.
Its foliage overlaps on thick branches and is triangular shaped and inward curved.
Hardy zones 9 to 11

* photo of unknown internet source

Araucaria rulei
A very beautiful conifer with a narrow rounded crown that is native to New Caldeonia. It can reach over 60 feet and the largest on record is 100 x 45 feet with a trunk diameter of 32 inches.
Similar in foliage to A. muelleri; its branchlets made of overlapping leaves look like lush dark green ropes in apprearance ( lightening to bright green at the branchlet tips ). The triangular leaves are up to an inch in length.
The bark is dark brown.
An excellent ornamental tree that is tolerant of partial shade and is hardy from zones 9b to 11

* historical archive photo

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