Large symmetrical pine tree to 50 m tall from Macleay River in NSW to North Queensland and New Guinea in most types of rainforest. Usually a single trunk to the tip of the tree. Often seen as an emergent in dry rainforest, also as a remnant in cleared or semi-cleared farms and scrubs. Lives up to 450 years and grows very slowly (23 mm each year when mature). On drier sites in rainforests, in places that are rocky or have soils with relatively low fertility. Leaves are simple, alternate, dark green narrow curved to 20 mm long and clustered along branchlets. Juvenile leaves are longer and straighter. Flowers are spikes (male) and rounded scaly cones (female) from November to February. Fruit is a green and then brown cone of winged seeds which disintegrates when ripe from December to February. Important tree in early Brisbane and ruthlessly exploited for timber. One of the key replacement species for the Enoggera catchment and Brisbane generally but too big for backyards.
Growth and Bark
It is a hardy though slow-growing plant. Will grow faster when its roots find moisture, fertiliser and when competition is removed. Like the Bunya Pine, its favoured natural habitat is mist forest. Reputedly, the largest living specimens are in the Cunninghams Gap area near the Queensland-New South Wales border. Propagation is irregular from the woody-winged seed, which is best sown fresh. The seed is food for cockatoos. It can take over 200 years for hoopies to produce male and female cones – found on the same tree (monoecious). Seeds are dispersed by the wind. The bark splits horizontally at regular intervals giving the common name, Hoop Pine.
Wood and Resin
The wood is a pale yellow-brown colour with a fine texture and a straight grain making it useful for furniture, flooring, panelling and, in the past, match sticks and boxes. Can be seen exuding resin in some specimens. Has been used as a tall feature tree all over the world. The resinous sap from the trunk was used by Aborigines as a cement after warming it up with their fingers.
Araucaria comes from Araucanos, a tribe in Chile that inhabited the region where the first Araucaria sp. was recorded by botantists. The species name cunninghamii is after Allan Cunningham, 1791-1839, botanist and explorer. Common names include Australian araucaria and Hoop/ Moreton Bay/ colonial/ Richmond River/ Dorrigo/ Queensland/ Brisbane pine. Indigenous names include: cumburtu, kum’barchu, coorong, coonam, arakaria, gunami, warrall, Alloa, Ningwik or Pien.
Green fruit cone