April 24, 2017

Pining for the South Pacific

Araucaria heterophylla - Norfolk pine

Pamela Rogers Photo | Araucaria heterophylla – Norfolk pine

Branch detail of Araucaria heterophylla - Norfolk pine

Pamela Rogers Photo | Branch detail of Araucaria heterophylla – Norfolk pine

In the vast South Pacific lies an island of 13. 3 square miles. On that island grows an endemic tree straight and tall — more than 200 feet when mature — that somehow has ended up as a houseplant here in the United States. Meet the Norfolk Island pine from Norfolk Island, an Australian territory. Captain James Cook first spotted the island with its unique trees in 1774. The Norfolk pine, Araucaria heterophylla, is a conifer in the Araucariaceae, an ancient family of coniferous trees that achieved the greatest diversity in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods before dying back as the dinosaurs became extinct.

These pictures were taken by Pamela Rogers during a walk earlier this week at Waikanae in New Zealand. She writes, ” The Norfolk Pine is quite prevalent here along the Kapiti Coast and in Wellington where the climate seems to suit it. … You see it a lot on roadsides, municipal gardens, schools, and again in our mall/supermarket parking spaces!”

And that houseplant thing? Yes, this pine is the one you see in supermarkets and garden centers being sold year round, but most often at Christmas, as the holiday tree. If you have one, know that if conditions are right, it could reach a couple hundred feet in height. You may need a bigger pot.

You can read more about how Garden Maine and Pamela met here.

Araucaria heterophylla - Norfolk pine

Pamela Rogers Photo | Araucaria heterophylla – Norfolk pine