Wollemi pine - Wollemia nobilis
The Wollemi Pine is another dinosaur fossil tree, related to the monkey puzzle and, like the monkey puzzle, was around 65 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth. It was rediscovered in 1994 on the edges of the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia, only 150 kilometres from Sidney. Despite its common name, it is not a pine.
It is a critically endangered species with only about 100 trees left in the wild. They live to be several hundred years old and the oldest living Wollemi pine, ‘King Billy’, is thought to be over 1,000 years old.
Although it originates from an extremely warm part of the world it can take temperatures of down to minus 10˚C. This just goes to show that until a plant species has been tried in a different environment it is impossible to predict how adaptable it might be, thereby proving the importance of trial and error alongside scientific methods.
The first specimen to arrive at Bedgebury was handed to the Pinetum, via Kew, by HM Customs who had seized it from the luggage of a traveller smuggling it into the country.