Forest 32 - Wollemi Pine

Wollemia nobilis

Seed cones of the Wollemi pine in Forest 32. Photo by L. Muldoon Wollemi pines in Forest 32. Photo by A. Burgess

Origin of the species name

Wollemia is named after the Wollemi National Park (an Aboriginal name for the numerous canyons in the region); nobilis is Latin for noble and refers to both the noble impression of the tree and the discoverer of the species, David Noble.



Date planted

July 2007 and September 2008


The oldest trees of this species are thought to be from 500 to 1000 years old.

The top of a Wollemi pine tree. Photo not from the Arboretum, by L.Muldoon

General description

This is a large evergreen conifer frequently coppicing from the base. The crown is slender with the widest part about one third of the total height. The bark is very distinctive, dark brown and knobbly. The bark peels from young stems in red-brown scales. The linear leaves are flat and taper to a rounded point. They are arranged spirally on the shoot but on branches they twist so that the side of the leaf initially facing the stem now face upwards and aligning in two rows in juvenile leaves and four rows in upper canopy branches. The seed cones are up 12cm long, are green and mature after about 18–20 months. The growing tips are protected by white 'polar' caps through winter, enabling the species to cope well with Canberra frosts. Forest 32 is the largest plantation of Wollemia nobilis anywhere in the world. Height 30m Spread 10m.

Natural distribution and habitat  

The species is native to the Wollemi National Park west of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia where it occurs along a creek in a deep and sheltered sandstone gorge in the Blue Mountains. It was first discovered growing alongside a creek in a narrow, steep-sided sandstone gorge in 1994. Fossil remains indicate that it was once widespread around the world.

Conservation status

W. nobilis considered to be critically endangered because fewer than 100 trees are known to be growing in a very restricted area in the wild. The species is restricted to a small number of populations in a very restricted area. The survival of the species in such a small area over a very long period of time is remarkable. One of the main current threats to the tree is people accessing the remote site and unwittingly introducing plant diseases. Prior to the discovery of living material, the genus was only known from fossils from the late Cretaceous, about 60-65 million year ago.

Planting pattern

In lines following the contours.


As it was only identified and recorded in 1994 there is no history of its use by humans. However, since it has been brought into cultivation it has become a very popular rare plant both in Australia and overseas. The planting at the National Arboretum is the largest in the world.

Further reading

Farjon, A (2010) A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Brill.

Wollemi pine Tree Story by Susan Parsons.