Bunya Bunya Pine at Melbourne Gardens
Visitors to Melbourne Gardens are asked to be extra careful and look out for falling cones from the Bunya Bunya Pines over the next few weeks.
Araucaria bidwillii (Bunya Bunya Pine) is a large evergreen coniferous tree that is native to Queensland and grows to 30 – 45m. There are 19 trees in Melbourne Gardens including four on Hopetoun Lawn and two each on Guilfoyle Lawn and the Queensland Bed.
The cones of the Bunya Bunya Pine are approximately 20-35cm in diameter and house as many as 50 large (3-4cm) seeds or nuts. The spiky green cones can weigh up to 5kg and have been described as ‘spiky green footballs’.
The Arboriculture team is working to remove as many of the cones as possible however, in some cases, access to the cones is limited and they’re extremely difficult to remove.
Curator of Arboriculture Will Jones says that it’s proving to be a challenging task.
“We’ve removed approximately 150 cones from 5 trees in the last week. They often hit a branch on the way down, bouncing through the canopy, sometimes hitting the ground well beyond the drip-line of the tree.”
“The trees at the Gardens are putting on a particularly large crop this year, as are most of the specimens across Melbourne’s parks, so perhaps take a few steps back and admire the trees from afar,” he said.
The Arboriculture team has placed warning signs around the Gardens and will also be closing off areas as they work to remove as many cones as possible.
Did you know?
- The Bunya Bunya Pine is not actually a pine tree and gained the colloquial name “Pine” from Europeans.
- It is an ancient species that was widespread across the globe in the time of the dinosaurs, approximately 350 million years ago.
- One theory as to why the leaves are so prickly is that the species adapted to avoid dinosaur browsing.
- The Bunya Bunya was important to Australia’s Indigenous people as both a food source and a part of traditional ceremonies, with major feasts held every three or four years to coincide with bumper crops.
- The nuts were traditionally prepared by roasting or boiling and tasted like roast parsnip.