Growing at the Time of the Dinosaurs

on Monday, March 03, 2008

Way back in October 2007, I posted about my trip to Australia for my nephew's wedding. In that post, I mentioned that I "visited a beautiful garden and shared something with dinosaurs." The beautiful garden was the amazing Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens which I also described in a following post. However, I totally forgot to elaborate on what I shared with the dinosaurs, which brings us to today's post.

One of the key exhibits at the Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens is a tree whose closest relative is known only from fossils dating back some 2 million years ago, during the time of the dinosaurs.
It was discovered in 1994 by David Noble, a field officer of the Wollemi National Park in Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains, New South Wales. It was found in a difficult to reach valley whose exact location remains a closely guarded secret to help protect the remaining 100 or so trees of this species.

It was given the name Wollemia nobilis and is commonly known as the Wollemia Pine. It is however, in fact, not a pine but a conifer of the Araucariaceae family which includes the Kauri tree of New Zealand. Amongst its more interesting features is its dark knobbly bark which has often been described as resembling the Cocoa Pops cereal. The tree can grow to approximately 40 m high.

As a result of its status as a living fossil, there is much demand for the tree and a propagation program intended to supply botanical gardens has now successfully become a commercial venture. It is certainly one of the Mega-stars of the botanic world.

That being said, it was a little odd looking but after all that hype and anticipation, the experience was a little bit of an anti-climax. (all photos by LGS).


Gerbil said...

well that is a rather weighty reputation for a tree to live up to... on the other hand, its still fascinating to think of something that's survived so very long.

Ruth W. said...

beautiful tree, so glad it is still around.

Dave said...

You know... There are certainly some hidden beauties still left in this world. We just have to find a way to protect them. These trees are definitely a good example. Thanks for the award LGS... Much appreciated! :-)

Tai said...

That's interesting! I'm glad it's still around, too!

meggie said...

I was so glad it was found, & it's location so carefully kept hidden.
It does make me ponder on how many more wonders there are, that have not yet been discovered.

Dr.John said...

I wonder how long they can keep the location a secret. But then I could walk right by it and never know it was special. I'm not a tree person.

Odat said...

It may have been anticlimactic for you but hey you were in the company of dinosaurs, kinda, maybe, well almost....;-)

tsduff said...

I double clicked on both pictures to see if I could see the snap crackle pop trunks :)

Very cool - I love learning about this kind of stuff. I AM a tree person.

Janice Thomson said...

It almost looks like a fern - a tree fern. It certainly has a fascinating history. Interesting they did not name it after the man who found it.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

you are right. Amazing how it survived when the rest of the world changed around it.

ruth w,
in the end, more variety of life can only be a good thing.

we gotta protect the wilderness areas that remain. At the end of the last century there were still lots of wilderness areas but that has now almost all disappeared.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...


undiscovered and as in this case, unchanged.

dr john,
I am not a tree person either but I would love to make a discovery like that. So I try to treat every tree as special cause it may well be.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

yeah, that's what I thought too but that cheap thrill wore off quite quickly. Perhaps if I walked through a forest of the trees, it would have been more impactful.

Ah, raven with green hands?

They did name it after him,.....the species but not the genus. Nobilis for Noble.

geewits said...

An anti-climax? I LOVE old plants. And if I were to touch something that existed in the time of dinosaurs, I'd much rather it be a Wollemia nobilis than a Crocodylus niloticus!

Anonymous said...

That's prety amazing. I love hearing about things like that.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Yea, you're right. I should be feeling privileged and in awe but I was hoping to see....I don't know....maybe some armoured fruits?

You can actually buy this plant for your garden, if you want.

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