Sunday, 1 February 2009

Araucaria bidwilli

Araucaria bidwillii Hook.
London J. Bot. 2: 503-506, t. 18, 19, f. 1, 1843
Pinaceae ; Araucariaceae
Hab. Mount Brisbane range of hills, 70 miles, NW of Moreton Bay, Australia
Collector and Number: J.T. Bidwill, Esq. s.n.
The Norfolk Island pine, the most noble and stately member of its family, occurs in various parts of New South Wales, and has been seen two hundred and seventy feet high, by twelve feet in diameter. Another species, the Moreton Bay pine, abundant on alluvial lands, and the sides of hills in that district, is remarkable for the slenderness of the stem in proportion to its height. Individuals have been measured one hundred and seventy feet along the trunk, with only a diameter of two feet. A third species, the bunya-bunya, is distinguished by its great peculiarity of outline, limited range, and utility to the native tribes. The outline of the tree is like that of a large umbrella, upon an exceedingly long stick. It rises often to the height of one hundred and fifty feet, with a diameter of five or six feet, which is maintained to a considerable altitude, the trunk not tapering in a perceptible manner for sixty or seventy feet from the ground. The stem is covered with a black bark, scored all over with horizontal lines, set very close together. About one-third of the height is occupied by dead branches, and the living top does not comprise more than one-fifteenth of the entire altitude. The branches, which are set on symmetrically, are very thin ; and they never divide, but continue to grow from the point alone, until the upper kill the lower by obstructing the light. The bunya may be recognized at the distance of some miles from its peculiar form. It has only been known since the year 1840, being confined to a range of mountains in the northern part of New South "Wales, where it occupies a space of about fifty miles in length by ten in breadth. Once in three years the tree bears fruit, when the aborigines gather from all the surrounding country to feast upon it. The cones are about a foot long by three-quarters in diameter, but so entirely covered with sharp points that a hedgehog, or a ball ten pounds' weight bristling with needles, may as readily be handled. The edible part of each seed is about the size of the kernel of a Brazil nut, and one seed is contained in each scale of the cone. To secure the natives in the enjoyment of their triennial banquet, the colonial government has prohibited the felling of the tree ; and stations are not allowed to be planted, nor stock run, in the bunya-bunya country.
Australia By Religious Tract Society p. 58
Figure and Description of a new species of Araucaria, from Moreton Bay, New Holland, detected by J. T. Bidwill,, Esq.
London Journal of Botany 1843
(With a Figure.—TAB. XVIII. XIX.)
Perhaps of all forest trees, certainly of all the Pine tribe, none has excited so much interest among botanists and cultivators as the several species of Araucaria, whether their vast size be considered, the singularity of their branches and foliage, stiff and rigid indeed in some, but graceful almost as ostrich feathers in others, (especially the A. excelsa), or the circumstance of their inhabiting only the southern hemisphere; each kind being confined to certain and rather restricted limits. The first that was known to Europeans was the A. imbricata, Sir Joseph Banks', or Chili Pine, which rears its lofty summit to a height of 150 feet among the mountains of Southern Chili, only in the interior, and as it appears only on the southern slopes of the Andes, so remote from any settlement that I never met with a traveller who had seen the tree in its native forests, nor heard of any that had been so privileged, save Ruiz and Pavon who first described it, and the accomplished German naturalist, Dr. Pöppig, whose highly interesting account of this tree I have given in the first volume of the " Companion to the Botanical Magazine," p. 357, &c. to which I must refer my readers. The excellent Menzies had the honour of introducing this noble tree to Europe in a living state. The large seeds are eaten not only by the natives, but by the Spanish Americans at Valparaiso ; and it was at the table of the Governor of that capital or of some official character, that Mr. Menzies was struck with their appearance, as those of some new Pine, and requested permission to take some with him. These he planted in 1795, on board Captain Vancouver's ship, and five young plants were reared and brought to the Royal Gardens of Kew. There they flourished, and all, but one, have been given away (the last in 1841 to her present Majesty, Queen Victoria, for the pleasure grounds at Windsor) ; and that remaining is at once the pride and ornament of this establishment, and has for the third time borne cones, but which though they have attained to a large size, for want of male flowers, have proved abortive and imperfect. To us this species is the more important, as being the only one that proves sufficiently hardy to bear the winters of our climate, and hitherto the severest frosts have done it no injury ; and seeds have been imported and reared, as is well known, by our nurserymen to a great extent, so that plants which a few years ago, could only be had, and with difficulty, at from two to five guineas each, may now be had for less than that number of shillings.

Closely allied to A. imbricata, and for a long time confounded with it, is another South American species, but wholly confined to the eastern side, and I believe only in the far interior mountains, of Brazil, in a much more northern latitude than the former, and consequently less hardy; this was at length distinguished by Richard, by the name of A. Brasiliana. It is more lax and spreading in its habit and the more graceful tree of the two. They are however both of them remarkable for the great size of their dark rigid foliage, the furthest removed from the acicular form so characteristic of the majority of the Coniferte. The only other species hitherto known to us, present a very different appearance from the peculiar form and size of the leaves, more resembling those of some Junipers; they are the Araucaria excelsa, and A. Cunninghami, and these inhabit a widely different part of the world from those now noticed.
The first of them, namely A. excelsa, is a discovery for which we are indebted to Captain Cook's second voyage. On approaching Norfolk Island the officers observed a gigantic tree, rearing its huge trunk frequently to a height of 40 or 60 feet, like a basaltic column, below the branches. This proved to be a new Araucaria, though at first named, by Forster, Cupressus columnaris; it was then called Dombeya excelsa by Lambert, Araucaria excelsa in Alton's Hortus Kewensis, 2nd edition, Entassa heterophylla of Salisbury, Altingia excelsa, Don mst. by Loudon in his " Hortus Britannicus,'' but again restored to Araucaria in Loudon's "Arboretum Britannicum." Of this majestic tree, I find a very interesting account in the Botanical MSS. of my friend, Mr. James Backhouse, now before me. " This stately tree is similar in figure to the Norway Spruce; but its branches are in more distant whorls, and usually about five in a whorl. The young lateral branchlets are deciduous, or at least, they fall off in great numbers. Some of the old trees growing in woods are 150 feet high, and a few are about 200 feet. The trunks of three on Mount Pitt, Norfolk Island, measured 23, 27, and 29 and a half feet in circumference, at 4 feet up. The two lips of the scales of the cone become united and form a ligneous covering to the seeds; external to this is a fleshy, terebinthaceous coat, containing a milky resinous juice; the cone resembles a globular pine apple in form, and has the scales deciduous. Large quantities of resin, like frankincense, are exuded from incisions in the bark. The timber is useful for inside work, but it soon perishes when exposed to the weather, especially as posts in the ground. The knots formed by the larger limbs of old trees which lose in some measure their regularity of form, are close grained, and afford handsome material for turning and inlaying. Under the bark of dead trees grubs of certain beetles feed in great quantities, making a noise in gnawing their way in some trees that have not long been felled, like a shower of rain. These afford food on Phillip Island, on which as well as on Nepean and Norfolk Islands, down to the margins of the cliffs, where the sea sometimes breaks, these trees abound with a singular bird of the parrot tribe, with long mandibles, and having some resemblance to a hawk. This bird is easily captured, and is not now found on Norfolk Island, but may have been destroyed there. In the woods the Norfolk Island Pine towers a hundred feet above the other trees ; it is not so lofty in the smaller clumps on the open hills, nor when solitary. Trees of this species planted in Sydney first produced cones in 1837."
A very interesting group of these trees is represented on a plate by Mr. Backhouse in his excellent " Narrative of a visit to the Australian colonies."

An Araucaria a good deal resembling this at first sight and supposed to be the same, was seen by Sir Joseph Banks and Dr. Solander on the east coast of New Holland, in Cook's first voyage in 1770, and was naturally supposed to be the same species with that examined on Norfolk Island ; but it was left for Mr. Allan Cunningham to detect the differences, and to send home specimens as well as living plants to the Royal Gardens, and to which the name of Araucaria Cunninghami was given by Mr. Aiton. From its abundance on the shores of Moreton Bay, it has been called the " Moreton Bay Pine;'' but it is by no means limited to that district. " It occupies a range," says Mr. Cunningham, " of 900 miles between the parallels of 14° and 29-1/2° on the eastern coast of New South Wales. On the alluvial banks of the Brisbane River, 27° 30', it rises to a height of from 100 to 130 feet, with a girth of from 14 to 16 feet, and a clear trunk of 80 feet. It is found at a short distance from the river in latitude 28° and to the extent of 80 miles inland ; but the trees are there comparatively small, and further inland they entirely disappear. Its maximum, therefore, is evidently on the coast, within the influence of the sea air."

As already observed, the Australian species of Araucaria differ remarkably in their foliage from those of the New World. It was therefore with no small degree of pleasure that the Linnean Society received a communication from J. T. Bidwill, Esq., then resident at Sydney, giving an account of a new Araucaria of the country interior from Moreton Bay, of which the foliage could scarcely be distinguished from the Chili Pine. A specimen of a branch with foliage accompanied the communication, and a statement that the seeds of this Pine were extensively collected by the natives above Moreton Bay and used as food. In a voyage which Mr. Bidwill subsequently made to Moreton Bay, he resolved to visit the locality of this remarkable tree himself, and in the summer of the present year (1843) he has brought to England not only branches and cones and male flowers, but also a healthy young living plant. This noble tree I propose to dedicate to its discoverer, who is not only a successful cultivator of plants in his garden at Sydney, but who has been the means of making known to us many novel plants of Australia, and more especially of New Zealand.
Foliis patentibus ovatis pungenti-acuminatis demutn has insigniter dilatatis, amentis fcemineis in ramulis propriis later- alibus brevibus erectis ovali-subglo bosis maxitnis, squamis laxis late alato dilatatis bi-labiatis labio inferiore seu apice acuminate reflexo, interiors acuto breviore. (Tab. X.)

Hab. Mount Brisbane range of hills, 70 miles, N. W. of Moreton Bay, Australia, J. T. Bidwill, Esq.

A tree, according to Mr. Bidwill's Notes, " growing from 100 to 150 feet high, with a remarkably stout trunk, which scarcely tapers for one half of its height from the base, covered with a smoothish black bark. Dead branches commence at about half way, and continue nearly to the summit, where the living branches are seen produced about sixteen in a whorl, the largest of them not 1-1/2 inch in diameter, 12 feet long; branchlets distichous 1-1/2 foot long; these living branches are densely crowded together, occupying in adult trees not 1/30th part of the whole height of the plant; (but this would not be the case, probably, if the tree grew in the open country); or, in other words, in the trees which I had the opportunity of examining, there are no live branches, except on those extremities which rise above the surrounding forest, and they form a very obtuse conical or almost hemispherical head." (Bidwill.) Leaves patent, sometimes almost standing out at right angles, spirally arranged on all sides, ovate pungently acuminate, of a remarkably hard and firm texture, slightly concave above, a little convex beneath and marked or impressed generally with two Hnes from the close application of the lower leaves in the infant state, dark green, glossy, when seen under a microscope beautifully marked with lines of minute pale dots :—their average length is rather more than 3/4 of an inch, but occasionally I have seen them, probably the effect of accident, 1 or 2 inches long on some of the young branches, oblong lanceolate, and more or less secund. In the younger and terminal branches the leaves are rather crowded, yet even there a singular dilation of the base may be observed, especially at the upper and underside; but in proportion as the branch enlarges by age the base of the leaf becomes more and more dilated, and at length so remarkably so, that the diameter of the flattened dilated base is equal to the length of the leaf, and takes a transversely hexagonal form, bounded by a white line, which separates it from the surrounding leaves, as shewn in the lower part of our main figure. Thus on the older branches, the leaves resemble a series of flattened hexagonal scales, with a leafy spine projecting from the centre. The cones are produced on the topmost branches, close to the central stem, " rarely more than ten or twelve in number, varying greatly in size and in form, from sphoerical to pear-shaped, the narrow part downwards, and oval." In my specimens the form of the cone is nearly oval, or approaching to globose, flattened at both ends, about 9 inches long and 7 broad, it is upright, and seated on a short leafy branchlet arising from a horizontal main branch. It is composed of a number of very large scales loosely compacted, and inserted upon a central column or receptacle. These scales are all spreading, the majority of them nearly horizontal, about 4 inches long and 3 broad. When lying in their natural position they present each a thickened face to the spectator, tapering to an edge or wing at each side; and towards the anterior edge or apex an acuminated and recurved spinous point appears, and these collected reflexed points are so stiff and pungent that the fruit is hard to lift in a perfect state, even with thick gloves on the hands :—above this seems to be another smaller scale ; but when the scales are separated, this upper one is found incorporated with the lower, or, in other words is a duplicature of the scale itself, and may be accounted for by considering the scale as a leaf, of which the upper base is still more dilated or prolonged than in the stem-leaves above described, and that base folded down upon the upper face of its own leaf. Be that as it may, these two scales, or lips, as shewn in our figure 7, soon become conjoined into one, and the whole of the portion so united, forming indeed, the mass of the scale, is a very soft and pulpy, substance, and bears within or upon it, the seed ; this part of the scale, therefore, in the cones soon decays, and on being torn open, the seeds of a very large size and obovate, fall out blackened with the decayed pulpy matter. The seeds are 2 or 2\ inches long, and f of an inch broad.
Besides the specimens from which the above description is chiefly compiled, Mr. Bidwill has also kindly furnished me with male catkins, of which one is represented at, f. 3. ; but whether found on the same or a different plant from the female, or on what part of the branches they are produced, I am ignorant. They are about 4 inches long, stout, cylindrical, apparently terminal on short leafy branches, and are composed of a great number of oblong scales closely compacted, presenting each on the outside a convex apex with an incurved point, beneath each scale are apparently six or more oblong anther-cells longitudinally placed; but their exact structure is not distinctly apparent.

" The native name of this tree is Banza-tunza, or Banya- tunya. The fruit it is said ripens only once in three years, and the precise period of the year when it does ripen seeds, does not seem to be known to the Aborigines who visit the trees at different periods to mark how it advances. The seed which is twice as large as that of the Chili pine, before it is ripe is very sweet, but acquires the same bean-like flavour, which has been remarked in those of A. imbricata, as it approaches maturity. It is greedily eaten by the natives at all times, before ripeness, raw ; and when ripe, roasted and pounded into cakes. I have never heard of any white man who had tasted the ripe seed.

" The wood is very close grained, and is said to be very durable ; but I do not know that any person can tell this, for I am certain that no tree has ever been cut down. I have seen a piece of wood, but it was cut from a plant 5 inches through and square, and Strongly resembled Kawri (Dammara australis), appearing, however, firmer and closer grained." Bidwill.
Tab. XVIII. XIX. Fig. 1. Branch of Araucaria Bidwilli. Near the base is a short leafy branch from which the cone is removed, f. 2. unusually formed leaf from among others, on a young branch ; f. 3. male catkin; f. 4. antheriferous scale from the same:—magnified f. 5. cone; f. 6. upper view of a scale removed from the cone; f. 7- side view of the same :—all but f. 4. not, size.
Grown in Plant House N.º 7 at Kew
Kew Gardens, Or, A Popular Guide to the Royal Botanic of Kew: Or, A Popular Guide to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew
By William Jackson Hooker
Edition: 2
Published by Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1847
No. 7- A large greenhouse, containing a miscellaneous collection of plants of temperate climates: a very great proportion, especially those at the eastern extremity, consists of plants, chiefly trees and shrubs, from New Zealand. Here are unquestionably the finest specimens in Europe of the famous New Zealand or Cowdie (sometimes called Cowrie, or Kauri) Pine (Dammara australis), the gift (with many other rarities) of Captain Sir William Symonds, R. N.; than whom no person is more competent to judge of its value for spars for the British navy. Ship-loads are annually imported to supply the Royal Dock-yards: it affords also copiously a valuable gum-resin. Other beautiful trees of that singular country are seen here : the Dacrydium cupressinum, whose feathery boughs perhaps exceed in delicacy and grace those of all other forest-trees; the Celery-leaved Pine (Phyllocladus trichomanoides) ; the Mai or Metai (Podocarpus spicata), and the Miro or Mairi (P. ferruginea) ; together with the singular Aralia crassifolia, a kind of ivy, bearing long leaves, of a texture almost resembling whalebone. Here, too, is the Pepper of New Zealand (Piper australe); the Myrtus bullata, with its blistery leaf; the charming Metrosideros robusta*, which climbs over other trees, as the ivy does with us, and adorns their otherwise bare trunks with its large glossy foliage and brilliant scarlet flowers; the New Zealand Beech (Fagus fusca) ; and lastly, of the plants of this distant group of islands, I shall only mention the New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax) (fig. 25.). Its leaves are like those of our Iris, or flag, and abound in strong fibre, which recommends it for an immense variety of purposes where hemp or flax would be used in Europe. Indeed, vast quantities both of the raw and manufactured material have been of late years imported into Europe, and that and the Cowdie Pine have been hitherto the chief articles of trade of the New Zealanders.
Entering further into this house, we come to a young Pine, with something of the habit of the Chili Pine; but it is, in Europe at least, an unique and perfectly new species of Araucaria, from the high lands in the interior of Moreton Bay, N. E. Australia. Having been presented to the Gardens by its discoverer, T. Bidwill, Esq., it justly bears that gentleman's name, Araucaria Bidwilli. Full-grown cones are as large as a child's head; and, as the seeds of the Chili Pine are eaten in South America, so the seeds of this are eagerly sought for, as an article of food, by the aborigines of Australia, who at the proper season migrate to these pine-woods for the sole purpose of collecting them. The Assam Tea may here be seen ( Thea Assamica of Dr. Royle), showing by its larger and pointed leaf that it is a distinct species from the Chinese Teas. Here, too, grow the two rare Beeches of Tierra del Fuego, one of which is already mentioned as planted near the pond ; the Evergreen (Fagus betuloides), and the Deciduous (Fagus Antarctica) Beeches. They will probably both be removed to the open air, when we are better satisfied of the entire suitableness of our climate to them : we fear the summer's drought for them more than the wet or cold of winter. Near them grows another rare Evergreen Beech, the Fagus Cunninghami of Van Diemen's Land. Another tree is placed here, which it is expected will eventually prove hardy, the beautiful Pine of China and Japan (Cryptomeria Japonica), for seeds of which we are indebted to Captain Sir Everard Home, Bart. In the spring and summer a delicious pine-apple like fragrance is often perceived by the visitor at the west end of this house: it is diffused by the flowers of the Chinese Magnolia fuscata. Mingled with this shrub are various New Holland and Cape and other plants, and among them several of the Gnaphaliums and Xeranthemums, or Everlasting Flowers (fig. 26.) as they are called from the nature of their blossoms, which neither shrink, nor, for a long time after being gathered, lose their brilliant colours: also the Hand-plant of Mexico (Cheirostemon platanifolium) (fig. 27.), of which the stigma, resembling the human hand, probably recommended this fine tree as an object of worship to the natives: at the time of Humboldt's visit, the only tree of it then known in Mexico was held sacred.


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Anonymous said...

What can I add to these painstaking early descriptions?

The Bunya Pine is a very large tree, as indeed are all of the Australian genus. A twenty-year old specimen I planted has reached 18m and bore its enormous cones for the first time this Xmas, but is yet to develop the distinct umbrella crown, and has retained its long drooping branches,with hostile deltoid leaves,to ground level. New growth is a beautiful pale even green,contrasting beautifully with the older darker growth.

As stated, the armoured cones are large (up to 30 x 20cm)and heavy and weep thick white resin that dries pale pink. Imagine a very large squat glossy green pineapple, minus the tuft of leaves. Falling cones will destroy soft underplantings, and people and cars caught below!

I must say the finer-leaved Hoop Pine is my favorite, though it is often less symmetrical than the Bunya. The young trees are slender and straight,and,before they reach rough-barked heights, have a incongruously smooth coppery-gold bark. One often stumbles across mature part-exposed lateral roots with this smooth bark, shining in a patch of sunlight on the rainforest floor. Individuals and groves of remnant trees can be seen in farmland around northern New South Wales, but are particularly striking dominating the canopies of low tangled dry rainforest; their tall profiles can be seen for miles.

So,are these ancient pines used ornamentally in Portugal? They have a long history in cultivation here in Australia,as you know. There are several genera of rainforest pines here,some small, most poorly known, one of the most beautiful being Podocarpus smithii; new growth is unforgettable though the colour is hard to describe. perhaps a creamy,pale blue/mauve comes close.

Gerald said...

Thanks for informative observation. Will post some photos of Araucaria bidwilli at Monserrate - probably the biggest in Europe 35m+ massive girth. Planted in 1860's.