Wollemi pine wŏl´əmī˝ [key], primitive tree, Wollemia nobilis, of the conifer family Araucariaceae, named after Wollemi National Park in New South Wales, Australia, where it was discovered in 1994. Anciently widespread on the supercontinent of Gondwanaland (see plate tectonics), the species was thought to have become extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period (approximately 65 million years ago). Not a true pine, the tree has unusual pale green, fernlike leaves, bright green female cones and brown male cones, and dark brown, corklike bark with a bubbly appearance, and can reach 130 ft (40 m) in height. With fewer than 100 mature trees in two known stands, it is one of the rarest wild plants on earth. To guard against unscrupulous commercial exploitation, the state of New South Wales has trademarked the name, limited access to the wild trees, and developed stock for the nursery market.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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