Second-last in the prehistoric plant series written by Alexis:
Also known as bunya pine, Araucaria bidwillii is part of a genus that dates back to the Jurassic period. In the Mesozoic era, species of Araucariaceae could be found in both hemispheres, “dominating the low latitudinal belt of summer-dry climates and living in mixed conifer communities in the middle latitudes” (Thomas and Spicer’s The Evolution and Palaeobiology of Land Plants (1987)). Today, the range of the family is smaller, mostly restricted to the southern hemisphere. As one example, Araucaria bidwillii only occurs naturally in Queensland, Australia. In the fossil record, Araucaria bidwillii is present mainly in the form of seed cones (PDF).
In the wild, this species grows in rainforests on basaltic soils where it is often found with Araucaria cunninghamii.
A distinctive (and potentially dangerous, should you be under the tree) feature of Araucaria bidwillii is its female cones, which can be 30cm in length and weigh 10kg! For Aboriginals of Queensland, bunya seeds were a highly valued food source. The wood of this species is strong and straight-grained, and so is a desirable source of timber.