the Wollemi Pine
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Welcome to the fourth edition of Wollemi Watch, a quarterly online newsletter for Wollemi Pine enthusiasts the world over.

In this first edition for 2004 we highlight a major activity for this year which is the showcasing of the Wollemi Pine at a world-class floriculture exhibition in Japan. We focus on the amazing work of photographer Jaime Plaza from the Botanic Gardens Trust and reveal his latest images from the Wollemi Pine in the wild. Feedback from our subscribers is featured and we also uncover the story behind the World Heritage listing of the Blue Mountains in Sydney, the home of the Wollemi Pine wild population.

We hope you enjoy this update and don't forget to refresh your PC wallpaper with another fabulous Wollemi photo here.

Pacific Flora Mascots

Newsflash: Wollemi Pine Exhibit at Pacific Flora

The Wollemi Pine is soon to be a key attraction at a major floriculture exhibition in Japan, marking the first time the ancient tree species will be on display at an exhibit outside Australia.

Pacific Flora will be staged from April 8 to October 11 2004 on 56 hectares beside the beautiful Lake Hamana in Hamamatsu (a city 1 hour south of Tokyo). It is expected to attract over 5 million visitors and showcase the best Japan and its international exhibitors have to offer from countries including Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Germany, the Netherlands, and Korea.

Wollemi Pines have been presented to the Shizuoka International Garden and Horticulture Exhibition (the organisation coordinating Pacific Flora 2004) to provide the opportunity for Japanese people to support the worldwide conservation and repopulation of the Pine. It is planned that one Wollemi Pine will be part of an indoor exhibit and another will be featured outdoors in the "Horticultural Gardens".

A planting ceremony will take place at the Pacific Flora site on March 23 to commemorate the Wollemi Pine exhibit at Pacific Flora. Organisers believe it will be a fitting addition to Pacific Flora 2004 which is themed "Flowers, Greenery, Water: Creating New Style of Living". The theme will encourage participants and visitors to the exhibition to take a fresh look at the relationship between human society and the natural world and build a better and brighter future.

Pacific Flora will feature attractions such as a re-creation of a Flower Museum (Monet's House & Monet's Garden), displays of Surprising Plants from Around the World, a 5 metre high floral Mt Fuji, and a three-dimensional garden in the shape of a 13-meter-high cylinder created by famous Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto.

It is anticipated that there will be significant interest in the Wollemi Pine from the Japanese people based on their interest in rare and ancient plants and the symbolic nature of conifers in the national culture. The Wollemi Pine will be available in Japan via specialist retail outlets by early 2006.

Jaime Plaza

Behind the Scenes with Jaime Plaza

Jaime Plaza van Roon is the Senior Photographer at the Botanic Gardens Trust and has been responsible for photographing the Wollemi Pine in situ for the past 10 years. He photographed the Wollemi Pine in 1994 before it was even officially identified and has since visited the wild population twice a year to document the trees for scientific purposes.

To meet researcher requirements, Jaime takes detailed photographs of the Wollemi Pine's physical characteristics like leaves, branches, cones and bark. A major part of his work is photographing the trees' cone development over time so researchers can build up a picture of the reproductive cycle and are able to determine the number and position of male and female cones produced on each tree from year to year.

Jaime's work is no mean feat considering the remote location of the Wollemi Pine in the wild. To get to the site initially, Jaime was required to fly in by helicopter and, with no landing pad nearby, was winched down onto a nearby cliff. Ropes were then used to climb down with all the necessary photographic equipment from the top of the canyon to a suitable ledge.

"In those early visits, I was required to not only photograph the Wollemi Pine site but also help with the process of seed collection by setting up seed traps. Very few of us are allowed into the wild population and the trips are so limited that it's all hands on deck when we get there," said Jaime.

"There is also only limited time in the day suitable to take photographs, because the trees are in a narrow shaded canyon. The ideal situation is absolutely still, with no wind, and just slightly overcast, but that doesn't always happen."

"Although there's a lot of waiting for that precise moment, I really enjoy the work and feel it is such a privilege to witness the pristine and untouched environment in which the wild Wollemi Pines live. There are very few signs of human disturbance at the site. I have not even seen flies there."

Over the years, Jaime has developed an extensive photo library of the Wollemi Pine, and many of his photos are available at the Wollemi Pine photo gallery. He normally uses medium format - Mamiya and Arca Swiss camera outfits with lenses ranging from 58 mm to 450 mm. While this outfit is big and slow, the benefit is a larger area of image that needs less enlargement at the scanning stage. For 35 mm photographs, he uses Leica and Nikon camera outfits with lenses ranging from 20 mm to 200 mm.

Jaime was born in Chile and migrated to Australia in 1986. Through his photography, he has found an ideal outlet for his life long interest in nature and the environment. He has had photographic assignments for organisations such as the Museum of Sydney, National Museum of Australia, Historic Houses Trust, ACP Publishing, and New Holland Publishers. His photographs have also been extensively published in Australia, Europe and the United States through Auscape International (an Australian Photo Library and Agency).

Stay tuned to hear more about people like Jaime who are working to conserve and protect the Wollemi Pine for current and future generations to enjoy.

Wollemi Tip

Did You Know: Wollemi Pines Can Detox Your Home or Office?

Did you know that indoor air pollution can be 20 to 100 times the level of outdoor air pollution?! For city dwellers who spend around 90% of their time indoors, indoor air quality is a worrying health issue.

The good news is that research has emerged in recent years from both Australia and the United States showing that indoor pot plants are sophisticated pollution absorbing devices. Specifically, plants from the Araucaria family (e.g. the Norfolk Island Pine), of which the Wollemi Pine is a member, have been hailed as some of the most effective and efficient plants for detoxing indoor environments.

Research in the US published by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) found that living plants are so efficient at absorbing contaminants in the air that some will be launched into space as part of the biological life support system aboard future orbiting space stations.

Led by Dr. Bill Wolverton (a former NASA research scientist), the research claims that the indoor air pollutants are common in newly built or recently renovated buildings. Chemicals from the paint, carpets, and furniture are usually responsible for the toxicity levels. Tightly sealed buildings, made to be efficient at heating and cooling, also re-circulate toxic fumes causing complaints such as sore throats, headaches and frequent colds.

"Plants are the lungs of the planet. They humidify and purify the air. So we can use plants to turn our homes and offices into healthy ecosystems, that purify and cleanse themselves," said Dr Wolverton.

As the Wollemi Pine is proving to be an excellent indoor plant (it grows well in low light and air conditioned environments), it now goes to show that having a Wollemi Pine will not only beautify your home or office but will also improve your health.

Adult trees in the wild

Wollemi Pine Conservation Club: Subscriber Feedback

Wollemi Pine enthusiasts worldwide have been signing up to the Wollemi Pine Conservation Club to register their interest in acquiring a Wollemi Pine. Here are just a few of the latest remarks that we have received.

"Your work on the Wollemi Pine is of great service to our understanding of earth's natural history and will hopefully raise awareness on the importance of preserving the fragile natural environment common to us all."
Home Gardener, Switzerland

"I would love our students to have the opportunity to grow one of these very special trees and observe its growth and development."
Teacher, Australia

"Clearly one of the most beautiful tree species ever seen as well as one of the most botanically fascinating. Should be grown by plant lovers everywhere!"
Home Gardener, California

"I think this is one of the most extraordinary finds and to have this Wollemi plant in my house would be like having a visitor from another planet."
Home Gardener, Germany

"The tree will be a gift for my sister and brother-in-law to plant in the yard of their new home."
Home Gardener, Ontario

"I learned of Wollemia via the (London) Times first press release years ago. I appreciate learning of its potential for a houseplant in the January 2004 RHS journal, 'The Garden'."
Home Gardener, Idaho

"I am fascinated by earth's history - to have something like this is like a time warp in my own house - how exciting!!"
Home Gardener, Quebec

"I'm studying horticulture and will probably be teaching Botany and Soil Science next fall. I'm excited about the discovery of the Wollemi Pine. There is a magnificent specimen of the Dawn Redwood, another "fossil" plant, in my neighborhood."
Teacher, North Carolina

"This is a great way to preserve the tree by getting people all around the globe to help."
Home Gardener, Malta

"The story of this tree is too incredible for fiction - I'd like to contribute to ensuring it's survival by planting a few of them on the 3 acres I have next to my house in Oxfordshire."
Home Gardener, Oxfordshire

See more frequently asked questions

Joining the Wollemi Pine Conservation Club registers your interest in purchasing a Wollemi Pine when they are released in 2005/6.

Blue Mountains

Fact File: Wollemi Pine Behind Blue Mountains World Heritage Listing

The remarkable discovery of the Wollemi Pine in the Greater Blue Mountains Area was a key factor in the area being inscribed on the World Heritage List at the 24th Session of the World Heritage Committee in December 2000. The 200 million year history of the relic Wollemi Pine, its evolutionary success and its status as a threatened species all contributed to building the case for why its home in the Greater Blue Mountains Area must be recognised and preserved as one of the world's top natural environments.

The Greater Blue Mountains Area consists of 1.03 million hectares of mostly forested landscape on sandstone plateaux, escarpments and gorges 60 to 180 kilometres inland from central Sydney, New South Wales. The area includes vast expanses of wilderness and is equivalent in area to almost one third of Belgium, or twice the size of Brunei. It is comprised of seven outstanding national parks including the Blue Mountains, Wollemi (where the Wollemi Pine was discovered), Yengo, Nattai, Kanangra-Boyd, Gardens of Stone and Thirlmere Lakes National Parks.

A major feature of the Blue Mountains is its dense population of oil bearing Eucalyptus trees which are said to reflect a blue colour into the atmosphere. It is also an area of breathtaking views, rugged tablelands, sheer cliffs, deep, inaccessible valleys and swamps teeming with life. The unique plants and animals that live in the area relate a story of Australia's antiquity, its diversity of life and its rugged beauty.

The Greater Blue Mountains Area is famous for containing ancient, relict species of global significance. The Wollemi Pine is the most famous of these as it is considered a "living fossil" dating back to the age of the dinosaurs. It is also home to more than 400 different kinds of animals, many of which are threatened or rare species of conservation significance such as the spotted-tailed quoll, the koala, and the yellow-bellied glider.

The Greater Blue Mountains Area affords representation of a major component of global biodiversity not previously represented on the World Heritage List. In fact, it represents the highest biodiversity in temperate forest environments, in Australia and globally, both within and across taxonomic levels. The Area includes almost ten percent of the Australian vascular plant flora and is outstanding on a global scale for its biodiversity.

For more information on the Greater Blue Mountains Area, please visit

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Photos: Jaime Plaza (Botanic Gardens Trust) and Blue Mountains Tourism Subsribe Send to a friend Join the Wollemi Pine Conservation Club
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