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Australian Conifers

Norfolk Pine

Another common pine in Queensland coastal areas is the Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla).

Endemic to lowland areas of Norfolk Island - a small island (about 8 km long and 5 km wide with an area of 3455 hectares), an Australian external territory since 1913, and which lies 1400 km east of Australia in the Pacific Ocean [1].

Norfolk Island pine has been very widely grown in the southern Pacific Ocean islands (including New Zealand), and on the inhabited sections of Australia's coast. It is also seen in tropical and sub-tropical landscapes all over the world. In California and Florida in the USA it is sold as an ornamental or potted plant, or it is decorated and sold as a living Christmas tree. This practice was also common in Australia - before plastic trees were invented - and before exotic species of pine were as easy to buy as they now are [3].

In suitable locations, it can grow to 60 metres in height, maintaining a very symmetrical pyramid shape. Growth can be quite fast when conditions suit them [3]. In the USA (in California and Florida) it reportedly grows to a maximum of 30 metres and is slower growing.

In Australia, its timber is not commercially used. However, Norfolk Island pine was one of the earliest timber species used in Australia's first settlement. It was logged and sent from Norfolk Island to the Port Jackson settlement (Australia) in October 1788 [2].

In the early 1900's it was the officially recommended timber tree for NSW coastal areas. "Norfolk Island Pine is recommended as the main timber tree for the New South Wales coast for the following reasons: it revels in the sea air; its narrow leaves and conical shape present comparatively little resistance to strong winds; it is ornamental in appearance, and it furnishes a useful, soft wood" [3].

Norfolk Island pine is regarded as a hardier tree than its close relatation, the Hoop pine [3].

Hawaii - plantation grown species

Norfolk Island Pine is one of the most common trees in Hawaii - introduced in 1852 from Australia. The USA State of Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources is planting both Norfolk Island pine plantations and Eucalypt plantations (Bluegum and Lemon-gum eucalyptus) on former sugarcane land.

Norfolk Island pine wood has a characteristic pine color and a knotty pine character. Its strength characteristics are similar to northern hemisphere conifers (such as Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir). One of its modern uses is for bowl turning. Finely turned bowls can take on a brilliant translucence that is difficult to achieve with other woods.

For great photographic examples, follow this link to Hana Coast Gallery, Hawaii.

The Hawai'i Forest Industry Association have graciously allowed us to provide a hyperlink to their site which provides information about native Hawai'ian timber species and several Australian natives that are plantation grown.

To see information and samples of Hawaii's Woods (both native and introduced species), follow this link [4].

The Hawai'i forest industry has foreseen a potential shortfall in world supply - and acted to meet future needs.

Sawn timber (Source unknown)

Salt & sand tolerant

The species is able to thrive in deep sand. These are trees on the Farnborough Beach sandunes, north of Yeppoon, central Queensland. (Photographs taken December 2000 - copyright D.L. Christiansen).

Click on the thumbnail image for an enlargement.

Photograph two: a close-up of the root system. This row of trees, even in this now exposed position in deep sand, still maintains its erect, symmetrical pyramid shape. The tree which is laying over, in the foreground, appeared to be growing - even though more than half of its root system is visible. (Also an example of the Australian conifer's - Araucaria family - root system generally).

Click on the thumbnail image for an enlargement.

(Araucaria excelsa is the superseded scientific name for this tree).


More Online Information

For a photo of Norfolk Island pine follow this link to the Australian National Botanic Gardens website [2].

For a photo of Norfolk Island pine leaves and immature cone follow this link to the Australian National Botanic Gardens website [2].


Next >> Wollemi pine


Glossary

Endemic: Prevalent in or peculiar to a particular locality or region.

Superseded: to put another in the place of.

Translucence: the quality of allowing light to pass diffusely; partial transparency.

Citations

[1] Earle C.J. (Editor) (1998, December). Gymnosperm Database: Taxon Descriptions ["Araucaria heterophylla"] [WWW online database] URL www.conifers.org/

[2] Australian National Botanic Gardens (undated). ANBG: Photographic Images [WWW Document] URL http://www.anbg.gov.au/images/photo_cd/ (visited January, 2001).

[3] Maiden J.H. (1902). (University of Sydney Library) Forest Flora of New South Wales [WWW Online Database] URL http://setis.library.usyd.edu.au/badham/

[4] Hawai'i Forest Industry Association (HFIA) (2000). Hawai'i Forest Industry Association [WWW Document] URL http://www.hawaii-forest.org/ (visited January, 2001).

Copyright D. L. Christiansen [Last updated February 2001] Images: respective copyright owners noted/cited.

 

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