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Wollemi pine, the oldest tree in the world

He arrived from Vancouver in early May and discreetly settled in the Botanical Garden, in the bonsai greenhouse, where he had been given a special place. Welcome to Wollemi Pine, the oldest tree in the world.

Given its unique status, it is even protected by a padlocked fence to prevent in particular that some daring people try to take a few ends of branch in order to make cuttings. Furthermore, it is in quarantine until 2009 and subjected to regular examinations to determine if the soil with which it was imported does not contain one or two unwanted bugs. The new darling of the Botanical Garden is a gift from the University ofBritish Columbia. elderly 5 or 6 years old, she measures 180 cm and comes from a cutting taken in Australia.

The history of Wollemi pine is unique.

In September 1994, David Noble, a ranger from the New South Wales National Park Society, Australia, went on an excursion to an isolated gorge in Wollemi Park, about 200 kmfrom Sidney. He notices several strange looking trees, about40 m, with foliage reminiscent of ferns, with multiple trunks and curious bark, as if covered with boiling chocolate bubbles, according to Noble’s comments.

Experts trying to identify the tree are formal: it is a new species, the origin of which dates back 90 million years, a tree which would have delighted some small Australian herbivorous dinosaurs. Despite its name, it is not a pine but rather an araucaria, as is also the case for a cousin, the Norfolk pine, a well-known indoor conifer. The exact situation of the Wollemi pine colony is almost the subject of a state secret. And for good reason. There are only a hundred trees there.

But the discovery did not stop there.

The Sydney Botanical Garden, the Australian Park Service and private nurseries formed an organization with the early 2000s la National Geographic Societyto market cuttings of Wollemi pines all over the world. For example, the specimen from the Montreal Botanical Garden comes from site No 1, from tree No 19 which is called John Banks (all the trees in the park have a name). It is a specimen with 13 trunks. One of them is dead and lies on the ground. Its height reached40 m and his age, around 350 years.

The royalties from the operation are used to finance the protection of Wollemi Park, to set up projects to protect endangered species while raising international awareness of the problem of the biodiversity. Thecuttings are currently sold in Europe and the United States. Sales in Canada started just a month ago. It isthe Nordic Plants nurseryNursery, of British Columbia, which holds the reproduction rights but its stock limited to 1500 specimens will not be renewed for several years. It is a mild climate tree. In Quebec, it must therefore be treated as an indoor plant that can be installed outside during the summer. Each plant (45 to60 cm tall) retails for $ 200.34, including delivery and the GST. Of $ 20 goes to la National Geographic Societyand the Association for the Protection of Wollemi Pine. In France where the plant is perennial, a specimen of80 cm costs around 400 euros (around $ 600).

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