ARAUCARIA species

Araucariaceae

INTRODUCTION TO ARAUCARIAS

Araucarias are a separate family of gymnosperms (Araucariaceae). Araucarias are cone-bearing trees of ancient lineage having cone scales with only one seed per scale. Some can grow quite large, and are, or have been, important timber sources. 

Araucaria is the largest genus in the araucaria family, comprising 19 or 20 species, and all are native to the southern hemisphere. Almost all species are found in tropical or subtropical rainforest, except the monkey-puzzle tree, which inhabits montane areas in South America. Other genera are Agathis and little known Wollemia.

Araucarias are evergreen trees with regularly whorled branches. Leaves are scale-like or needle-like. Araucarias are mostly dioecious, male and female cones occur on separate trees; the female cones are quite large, and ripen in 2–3 years. The seeds of Bunya-bunya (Araucaria bidwellii) are large and nourishing, still considered by many to be a delicacy.

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Bunya-bunya or bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii)

Chilean pine or monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) is native to the southern mountains of Chile and southwest Argentina. Monkey puzzle tree may live 1000 years. It is unusual within the genus in occupying dry habitats, which is typical for many conifers that attain great age. This specimen is one of a few at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley, California. Alas, most there do not seem to be thriving. Monkey puzzle is fire adapted, though risks extinction in the wild due to limited and severely fragmented distribution, coupled with ongoing habitat reduction.

Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla), formerly A. excelsa), native to Norfolk Island east of Australia.

Widely planted in San Francisco Bay Area, more.

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Cook pine (Araucaria columnaris) is native to New Caledonia and widely planted in Hawaii and other warm climates. They have been found to lean toward the equator, an average of 8 degrees south in the northern hemisphere, and 8 degrees north in the southern hemisphere. The trees above are in Kona, Hawaii, near the old airport. I think I detect a leftward (south) lean.