Phriday Photo: Wollemi Pine

I was in London earlier this week for an edit­or­ial meet­ing with many of the Annals of Botany mem­bers. As part of it, I took my first trip to Kew. So long as you’re not think­ing, you can take a pleas­ant stroll around the gar­dens in two or three hours. There’s some nice shaded paths beneath the trees and some well-sculpted dis­plays. If you stop and start think­ing “Hey! Almost every one of these trees is dif­fer­ent from its neigh­bours, how much effort is it to keep them all grow­ing and healthy?” then you’ll need days. I took a few pho­tos there and had the odd exper­i­ence of one com­ing out as I expec­ted it too. Usually I take dozens and try and find one I can res­cue into some­thing viewable.

A Wollemi Pine in a cage

A Wollemi Pine at Kew Gardens.

This is a Wollemi Pine. It’s found in Australia, but not very often as there’s fewer than 100 of them in the wild. It was also, till 1994, thought to be extinct as it was only known from fossils. It wasn’t till less than 20 years ago a stand of them was found 60 miles out of Sydney. Professor Carrick Chambers, dir­ector of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, said at the time of the dis­cov­ery that it was “the equi­val­ent of find­ing a small dino­saur still alive on Earth”.

You can find out why it’s in a cage at Kew, or buy one for your­self at the offi­cial web­site.

Alun Salt. ORCID 0000-0002-1261-4283

When he's not the web developer for AoB Blog, Alun Salt researches something that could be mistaken for the archaeology of science. His current research is about whether there's such a thing as scientific heritage and if there is how would you recognise it?

1 Response

  1. The August issue of Annals of Botany car­ries an import­ant paper show­ing that the Wollemi Pine is the most sens­it­ive of many relic spe­cies to tem­per­at­ure increases, lim­it­ing its wider re-introduction.
    This paper by Offord et al. will be on-line in the next couple of weeks, with the snap­shot and doi below. Meanwhile, the interest in this spe­cies is extens­ive — http://​aob​.oxford​journ​als​.org/​s​e​a​r​c​h​?​s​u​b​m​i​t​=​y​e​s​&​a​m​p​;​y​=​0​&​a​m​p​;​f​u​l​l​t​e​x​t​=​w​o​l​l​e​m​i​&​a​m​p​;​x​=​0​&​a​m​p​;​f​o​r​m​a​t​=​s​t​a​n​d​a​r​d​&​a​m​p​;​h​i​t​s​=​1​0​&​a​m​p​;​s​o​r​t​s​p​e​c​=​d​a​t​e​&​a​m​p​;​s​u​b​m​i​t​=Go — and there are some con­tro­ver­sies, includ­ing relat­ing to the first paper on the nature of axil­lary mer­istems in the species.

    From early July, see http://​www​.dx​.doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​9​3​/​a​o​b​/​m​c​r13
    Temperature lim­its for rel­ic­tual rain­forest Araucariaceae
    Many rel­ic­tual rain­forest spe­cies, such as those in the Araucariaceae, are at risk from anthro­po­genic cli­mate change. Offord (pp. nnn–nnn) explores the poten­tial effect of cli­mate change on Australian Araucariceae by invest­ig­at­ing the upper and lower threshold tem­per­at­ures at which foliage dam­age occurs, and finds that high tem­per­at­ures pose the greatest threat as upward tem­per­at­ure shifts com­bined with loc­al­ized radi­ant heat­ing may increase can­opy tem­per­at­ures by at least 10 °C. Wollemia nobilis is the most sens­it­ive of the spe­cies tested, which may explain why many land­scape plant­ing sof this spe­cies have failed in hot­ter areas of Australia.

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