Araucaria bidwillii

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Family: Araucaceae
Genus: Araucaria
Common name: Bunya Pine
ALA reference

This is the only weed species that we intend to retain permanently in the Fort Bushland Reserve. This species is native to the Bunya Mountains and a small area in North Queensland. It never occurred naturally in the Brisbane area and so must be considered a weed tree in the reserve. However removal of these impressively large trees is now rather impractical so it is likely that they will be retained. The trees are monoecious and right now the tips of the branches are festooned with male pollen cones making them look like decorated Christmas trees. The female cones that grow along the branches are wind pollinated and ripen between about January and March. (September 2013)

This is one of the Australian native trees that doesn’t really belong in the Reserve. Its natural range is limited to the area around the Bunya Mountains and the headwaters of the Brisbane River, and to a small area at Mt Molloy, north-west of Cairns. It is a large majestic symmetrical tree attaining a height of about 40 metres with a stem diameter of 1.5 metres. Because of its imposing stature it was frequently planted as an ornamental tree in the late 1800s and early 1900s, which explains why we have so many mature trees around Brisbane. Even from a considerable distance it is quite easy to identify this tree from Araucaria cunninghamii (Hoop Pine) because it appears to have a double pyramidal top. These cone-bearing trees have separate male and female flowers on the same tree. The trees in the Reserve seem to have fruited well this season and the ground under the trees is now littered with fallen cones. Take considerable care when walking under any of these trees for the next month or so because these very heavy cones would do considerable damage if one landed on your head. This tree really does justify its reputation as a bush tucker plant. Australian aborigines travelled from considerable distances to the Bunya Mountains to feast on the nuts and participate in tribal festivities. The nuts are really tasty when roasted but are rather difficult to open because of the tough shell. (February 2011)

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