Cook’s ‘Gondwana’ Pine

Clive Blazey explains why it thrives in gardens of all sizes and in all mainland capital cities

Cook's ‘Gondwana’ Pine

The landscape of southern Australia today has the declining remnants of planting decisions made about 100 years ago.

Our fastest growing native tree, the eucalypt, is unfortunately even more flammable than the cypress or Monterey Pines (Pinus radiata).

So now we have to find better, non-flammable replacements for our warming climate. Fortunately, we have lots of native trees that are barely flammable, that survive dry periods and also produce delicious cooling shade, and some even have ecological traction, having evolved in the Gondwana period, over 215 million years ago (see timeline on page 18).

The excitement over the Wollemi Pine was misplaced because it's growing range is so limited. However, we do have lots of survivors from the era of the dinosaurs and the break-up of the single continent of Pangea, such as Araucaria columnaris (Cook's ‘Gondwana’ Pine) which thrives in every mainland capital.

Most gardeners are familiar with the Norfolk Island Pine which is planted beside the sea and in coastal parks everywhere, however its form is stiff and its width at ground level prohibitive.

Cook's ‘Gondwana’ Pine, on the other hand, is the gardener's choice because it takes up less space (ground width) than any tree except a palm (just 10m2) reaching heights in excess of the proverbial Catholic church or ten story building. Cook's ‘Gondwana’ Pine predates dinosaurs by 50 million years, Eucalypts by 160 million years and thrived at the time of Gingkos, Horsetails, Cycads and Ferns.

Named after explorer James Cook when he landed in New Caledonia, Araucaria columnaris can reach 60 metres tall in its local forests, hence its species name referring to its column-like form. Just as the Italian Cypress is iconic in Tuscany, the Cook's ‘Gondwana’ Pine will undoubtedly become Australia's signature tree.

The iconic Cypress trees in Tuscany


“Cultural Cringe” and our national garden identity

Clive Blazey explores nativism, garden-worthy trees and planting in different climate zones

Choosing plants and trees that will survive a warming climate

Clive Blazey discusses some of Diggers plant and tree selections

Cook's Gondwana Pines fed the dinosaurs

Clive and Penny Blazey visit the Ile des Pins and explore epic forests of this ancient tree

Growing the world’s most expensive pine tree

Preserving a fossil, or setting gardeners up for failure?

Mountain Range farm and Dapto community farm

Lance Carr feeds refugees — body and soul

My best friends are trees

Clive Blazey tells how prodigious tree growth is dependent on fungal mycorrhizae in the soil

Taking responsibility for climate change by planting trees

How Jan and Michael successfully planted 20,000 trees in East Gippsland

The Bunya Pine: a tale as old as time

Marcelle Swanson shares her personal experience of growing up with a Bunya Pine

The National Arboretum of Doom

Peter Marshall, forester, truffle grower and expert on mycorrhizae gives his forthright view

Trees for small backyards

Clive Blazey explains why trees are the most important element in any garden, particularly in small spaces

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Clive Blazey

Clive is the founder of The Diggers Club, a pioneer in the rescue of heirloom vegetable and fruit varieties and author of seven books on flower, vegetable and fruit gardening.

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