Wollemia nobilis

Douglas Justice wrote today’s entry. I took the photos of the tree, recently planted at the garden’s front entrance. The first image shows a side branch photographed to show the new growth. The second shows a small male cone.

Wollemia, previously known from fossils as old as 90 million years and thought to be extinct for at least 2 million years, was discovered alive in a rainforest grove in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, Australia, in 1994, by David Noble, a field officer of the Wollemi National Park. The discovery caused tremendous excitement and fanfare in the scientific community. While we can never be entirely certain of the identification of fossil species, pollen and leaf studies show that Wollemia nobilis (Wollemi pine) and the fossil Wollemia are close relatives, if not the very same species. Read more about this tree here.

Fewer than 100 mature individuals of Wollemia nobilis exist in the wild—an additional two small groves have been identified since the original discovery—making this one of the rarest and most endangered trees in the world, but conservation work, funded primarily through sales of propagated trees, has helped to ensure the species’ survival.

The tree pictured, “Little Billy,” is a first descendant propagation of the “Bill Tree,” the tallest of the Wollemis in the original grove. The species has been through plenty: from dinosaur browsing to multiple ice ages and extended periods of drought. We’re confident that with limited winter protection, it should be able to survive here.

Wollemia nobilis
Wollemia nobilis

13 responses to “Wollemia nobilis”

  1. Annie Morgan

    What a marvellous discovery! Thank you ever so much for showing us that one.

  2. Carolina

    It will probably survive human kind too…

  3. bill

    I’ve never heard the “Bill Tree” nickname before. The largest known Wollemi pine is called King Billy (http://www.wollemipine.com/photo_gal.php); I think it might be a reference to a Banjo Paterson verse (http://www.uq.edu.au/~mlwham/banjo/johnsons_antidote.html), since that’s the only other place I’ve heard the name.

  4. Don Fenton

    Loverly, loverly, photograph!!! The first specimen that I saw was in our local [Adelaide, S.A.] Botanic Gardens: it was in an iron cage, now removed, as the tree has grown, and is presumably able to deal with cuttings-hunters! Propagated plants, code-numbered for the original specimens, are available on the market, so that buyers who wish to establish a viable population can buy one of each of the known existing individuals. Three different clone-numbers should give a viable “new-start” population.

  5. elizabeth a airhart

    bravo to all for helping save
    all the little billys
    the link pages and photos
    are just grand thank you
    i realy admire the first
    picture on this page

  6. Millet

    I purchase a Wollemia pine a couple years ago from the National Geographic Society’s conservation tree sale. The tree looks even more prehistoric in real life then it does in pictures. – Millet

  7. jan phillips

    I am so looking forward to getting the money one day to buy one of these for our college grounds. Tregothnan garden are propagating them locally.

  8. Wesley

    Hello,
    Excellent work!
    I was wondering how one could aquire a clipping or purchase a tree?

  9. James Cowling (UBCBG)

    Wesley: Wollemia are available for sale at some garden shops; just need to check around. Americans can order online at http://www.ancientpine.com, but I don’t have a Canadian online source right now. Due to quarantine restrictions, all Wollemia for sale in the US and Canada have been grown in their respective countries.

  10. Julie

    I am SO glad you posted these pictures. I read an extensive article in one of our local newspapers recently about this wonderful find and about “Little Billy” – a treasure those of us who live nearby can now visit. Thank you so much!

  11. Denis

    I saw one of these indoors at the Missouri Botanical Gardens on a trip there several years ago.
    We will, I’m sure, be looking forward to an update around a year from now to see how Little Billy did over the course of a BC winter.
    I figure if that works out, I’ll give one a try here in Oregon.

  12. Joe

    They’re rated as zone 7 and are surprisingly hardy. One planted outside in Washington D.C. has seen and survived lows of 12 F.

  13. David Matthews

    I can’t seem to find any place in the USA which sells these? Can anyone make suggestions.
    Thanks, David

Leave a Reply