Araucaria columnaris / Coral Reef araucaria

Araucaria columnaris, first described by (Johann Reinhold Forster) William Jackson Hooker in 1852 is commonly known as the Coral reef araucaria, Cook pine, New Caledonia pine, Cook araucaria, or Columnar araucaria. It was first classified by botanists working on Captain James Cook's second voyage of exploration. The Coral reef araucaria is often confused with the Norfolk Island pine (A. heterophylla) because of their similar appearance.


Description. Coral Reef araucaria is a distinctive narrowly conical species of coniferous tree which will grow to a mature height of 200 feet (60 m) tall. Its bark is rough, gray, and resinous, peeling off in thin paper like sheets. The relatively short, mostly horizontal branches are in whorls around the slender, upright to slightly leaning trunk. The branches are lined with cord-like, horizontal branchlets ca. 0.4 inch (9 - 10 mm) in diameter. The branchlets are covered with small, green, incurved, spirally arranged, spiny, overlapping leaves, ca. 0.24 inch (5 - 7 mm) long by ca. 0.16 inch (3 - 5 mm) wide at the base. The juvenile leaves are needle-like, while the broader adult leaves are triangular and scale-like. The seed cones are scaly, egg-shaped, and 4 to 6 inches (10 - 15 cm) long by 2.8 to 4.5 inches (7 - 11 cm) wide. Seeds are ca. 1.3 inches (3 - 3.5 cm) long, with ovate nuts and broadly-rounded wings. The smaller, more numerous pollen cones form at the tips of the branchlets and are scaly, foxtail-shaped, and 2 inches (5 cm) long.

natural range of <em>Araucaria columnaris </em>
natural range of Araucaria columnaris

Distribution. This species is endemic to southern New Caledonia — Ouinne to Prony and Isle of Pines, in the southwestern Pacific ocean, growing at elevations of sea level to 150 feet (0 - 50 m).

A. columnaris is among the most common Araucarias planted as an ornamental tree and street tree in warm temperate climates. It is cultivated in gardens and public landscapes in Queensland, northern New Zealand, southern California, Mexico, and Hawaii.

Araucaria columnaris, in habitat, L'Île-des-Pins, New Caledonia
Photo by myLifeShow via Wikipedia
Araucaria columnaris on the island of Kutomo, Isle of Pines, New Caledonia. This 100% natural wilderness is protected from human intrusion.
Photo by René Moutouh
Araucaria columnaris in habitat, Prony, Îlot Casy, southern New Caledonia.
Photo by Mickaël T.
Araucaria columnaris — a closeup of foliage.
Photo by Tom Cox
Araucaria columnaris — a closeup of bark.
Photo by Tom Cox
Araucaria columnaris — a branch with cones, Maui, Hawaii.
Photo by Forest & Kim Starr, via Wikipedia