A Wollemi Pine, one of the world’s oldest and rarest tree species, was today bequeathed to the Canadian people as a gift to mark 150 years since the Canadian Confederation in 1867.
The Wollemi Pine was thought to be extinct, until it was rediscovered in NSW in 1994—previously known only through 90 to 200 million year old fossils.
Head of Plant Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Dr Marion Healy, congratulated the people of Canada on reaching this milestone and highlighted the behind-the-scenes work that allowed the pine to travel safely around the world.
“This tree spent the first seven years of its life at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra where it grew to a height of two metres—only a fraction of its potential height of 40 metres,” Dr Healy said.
“Departmental officers, along with staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian National Botanic Gardens and the Canadian Government, worked closely to ensure the smooth and safe transportation of the Wollemi Pine to Ottawa.
“While a shame to ruin the surprise, it was important to work with Canadian officials to develop a thorough treatment and handling plan in order to head off potential biosecurity threats and ensure the tree survived the journey.
“The plant was treated with a fungicide and insecticide, and the growing media had to be steam treated to ensure that unwanted insects and plant material couldn’t hitch a ride on the tree and threaten Canada’s agricultural industries and environment, not to mention the close friendship between our two countries.
“The tree is believed to live for around 500 years, so I hope it will be on-hand to help Canada to celebrate its 650th anniversary.”