Selected Trees and Shrubs
Araucaria heterophylla, Syn: A. excelsa; Common name: Norfolk Island Pine
Plant Family: This is not a pine but a conifer; it belongs to the coniferous Araucariaceae family of generally very tall trees, distributed largely in the southern hemisphere; includes the Monkey Puzzle Tree (A. araucaria), and (A. hunsteinii) of New Guinea, one specimen of which, at almost 90 m (293 ft), is reportedly among the tallest trees in the world.
Description: The Norfolk Island Pine is a beautiful tree of symmetrical, pyramidal shape, up to 65 m tall (210 ft) in its native habitat, with straight vertical trunk, up to 3 m diameter (10 ft), and regular tiers of short, horizontal, spreading branches; leaves crowded on branches, juveniles of needle or awl-like shape, adults scale-like and ovate (its species name, heterophylla, means "different leaves"); male cones oblong, to 5 cm long (2 in); female cones erect, usually sub-globose, 10-12 cm long (3.9-4.7 in) and 12-15 cm diameter (4.7-5.9 in); seeds oblong, winged, up to 3 cm long (1.2 in) and edible.
Natural Habitat: Grows well in deep sand, but needs reliable water when young; is tolerant of salt and wind, making it ideal for coastal situations; propagation primarily by seed, but also by cuttings; (note: cuttings taken from vigorous upright material will inherit normal upright growth habit, but cuttings taken from horizontal branches will root, but will maintain horizontal growth habit rather than normal upright growth).
Origin and Distribution: Tree is native to Norfolk Island, a small, sub-tropical island in the Pacific Ocean between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia; the Araucariaceae are a very ancient family of conifers originally existing almost worldwild but became extinct in the northern hemisphere; Norfolk Island Pine is planted throughout the tropics and subtropics, especially in Australia, New Zealand, Texas, California and Florid.
Uses: Very popular ornamental tree in subtropical and tropical gardens, planted singly or in avenues; small saplings also used as environmentally friendly Christmas trees since they can be kept as houseplants, or planted in the open in tropical and sub-tropical climates after the holidays; produces high quality timber good for woodturning, used extensively by Hawaiian craftspeople.
Indigenous Legends: The petrified trees of the famous Petrified Forest of Arizona are fossil Araucariaceae.
Robert A. DeFilipps. Useful Plants of the Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 1998
Arlington A. James. An Illustrated Guide to Dominica’s Botanic Gardens. Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Dominica 2007
H.F. Macmillan. Tropical Planting and Gardening. Macmillan, London 1956
Araucariaceae: Araucaria heterophylla. Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Univ. of Connecticut, Dec. 2008 [florawww.eeb.uconn.edu]
Jack Scheper. Araucaria heterophylla. Floridata.com. Tallahassee, Florida, Oct. 2004 [www.floridata.com]
Araucaria heterophylla. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Oct. 2008 [en.wikipedia.org]
Araucariaceae. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Oct. 2008 [en.wikipedia.org]
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