Saturday 18 May 2013

Norfolk Island Pine

Norfolk Island Pine Araucaria heterophylla is endemic to the small (35km²) Australian territory of Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean. As a consequence, the native population of this attractive tree is relatively small, but it is necessarily resistant to salt and wind, and so has become a very popular shore front tree planted on the temperate east coast of Australia. Unlike many trees it retains its symmetrical shape no matter how strong the prevailing wind.

When they are young they have an almost artificially perfect 'Christmas tree' form, but they get a bit more random looking with age. They live to about 150 years and are one of the relics from the age of dinasaurs.

In Europe, although you often see their Chilean cousin, the Monkey Puzzle A. araucana, in parks and gardens, Norfolk Island Pine does not seem to be planted here. You see it sometimes as an indoor plant, as it copes well with limited light and grows slowly enough not to outgrow its pot too quickly. Indoor Norfolk Island Pines are very young specimens, and their leaves hang down. It's only when they get bigger and older that the leaves lift up into that distinctive upturned frond.
Orchard Update: Yesterday I spent the afternoon creating a ratatouille ready bed, for the tomato, aubergine, zucchini and pepper seedlings I bought at Verneuil. They are thriving on the front courtyard, but are still in their little seedling pots and need to be put out. The Saints des Glaces have passed, and no late frosts are predicted. The sun shone (mostly) while I worked, the turtle doves purred and the crickets chirruped. Tiny nectarines and cherries are forming on the trees. A team of Violet Fritillary butterflies were doing an excellent job of pollinating our strawberries and the first Blue Featherleg damselfly of the season was drifting about by the stream. The paulownia is covered in lavender coloured flowers and the orchids gorgeous.


Ken Broadhurst said...

You make the orchard garden sound very attractive, and I know that it in fact is. Did you get the heavy rain that we got this afternoon?

Susan said...

Ken: I was over at Les Ormes this afternoon on a botany outing. It rained heavily the whole time and we all got absolutely saturated. The roads were flowing with sheets of water. Simon reckons Preuilly didn't get quite that much rain, and certainly by the time I got to Descartes on the way home it was easing.

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