Trees of the archer
BUNYA PINE (Araucaria budwillii)
is native to South-East Queensland and was found in large groves along the Stanley River and Sunshine Coast hinterland through to the Bunya Mountains and is recognised by its conical shape. Much is written about the Bunya Festival where first nation peoples gathered when the fruit ripened for traditional ceremonies. The cones are 20–35 cm in diameter weighing as much as 18 kg and are opened by large birds, such as cockatoos or disintegrate when mature to release the large 3–4 cm nuts.
HOOP PINE (Araucaria cunninghamii)
gets its common name from the outer layer of bark which forms scale-like horizontal hoops and can also be recognised by the whorled branch. It is a very adaptable and resilient tree that can grow along the coast in a variety of conditions from Northern NSW to Cape York Peninsula. First Nation peoples used the resin as a form of cement. The cones are ovoid,
6–8 cm diameter, and take about 18 months to mature. They disintegrate at maturity to release the nut-like edible seeds.
COOK PINE (Araucaria columnaris)
was named after Sir James Cook by the botanist on board Cook’s second voyage. It is a narrowly conical tree recognised by its distinctive tilt - to the South in the Northern hemisphere and to the North in the Southern hemisphere. It has been found to tilt about 8 degrees towards the equator which some scientists think is to catch maximum sunlight. The female seed cones are 7-11cm wide with the smaller male cones found at the tip of the branchlets.
WOLLEMI PINE (Wollemia nobilis)
was thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in 1994 in NSW rainforest, now called Wollemi National Park. The oldest Wollemi fossil is dated 200 million years ago. The Wollemi pine is classified as critically endangered and is legally protected with a recovery plan to ensure the species remains viable. It has dark knobbly bark and the branching is unusual in that side branches do not show further branching but end in a cone. When the cone matures the branch dies.
QUEENSLAND KAURI PINE (Agathis robusta)is found naturally in pockets around Mareeba and Maryborough with some beautiful examples on Fraser Island. Although it was heavily logged in the past, and spectacular trees of prodigious size are much rarer than in pre- European times, the species as a whole is not classified as endangered. Queensland kauri timber is used in flooring, furniture and violin bellies. It
is recognised by its fairly smooth bark and its broad flat foliage. The seed cones are 8-13 cm in diameter and the male cones about 1 cm think.
PARANA PINE (Araucaria angustifolia)is an introduced species native to Brazil and due to deforestation is considered critically endangered. It is recognised by its bare columnar trunk crowned with whorled branches and leaves that are thick with razor sharp edges. Its nickname is the ‘candelabra tree’. The male and female cones are usually on separate trees. The female cones are 18-25 cm in diameter and disintegrate on maturity to release nut like seeds which are a popular snack in Southern Brazil.