140 year old Bunya Bunya Pine nominated for Victorian Tree of the Year
In 1879, this majestic Araucaria bidwillii (Bunya Bunya Pine) was planted on the Princes Lawn at Melbourne Gardens by Lady Bowen, wife of Victoria’s governor general at the time. 140 years later, this magnificent specimen is still standing tall and has been nominated for Victorian Tree of the Year Awards by The National Trust, one of Australia’s leading conservation organisations.
The National Trust is the state’s leading advocate for the protection of trees. Since 1982 the Trust has classified over 20,000 trees in 1,200 places across the state on the National Trust Significant Tree Register. Their Tree of the Year Awards celebrate the trees that have captured the hearts of Victorians, be they big, small, young or old.
Bunya Bunya Pines are significant for a number of reasons. They're native to the subtropical forests of Queensland and, like the Wollemi Pine, are ‘living fossils’, having been widespread globally throughout prehistoric times approximately 350 million years ago. Their notably prickly leaves may have been an adaptation to avoid dinosaur grazing.
These trees can grow more than 50 meters tall, and produce giant cones that can weigh over 10 kilograms and house as many as 50 seeds. This particular specimen is formidable at a height of 39 metres, with a canopy spread of 15 meters and a trunk circumference of 3.6 meters.
Bunya Bunya Pines have long been incredibly important to Australia’s indigenous people, and has many common names a range of aboriginal dialects including Bonyi-bonyi, Bunya-bunya, Banza-tunza, Banua-tunya, Bonyi-bonyi, Boonya, Bahnua, Bunyi, Bunya and Banza-tunza. Indigenous Australians used Bunya Bunya Pines in traditional ceremonies, as a source of wood, and as a food source, with the seeds typically being prepared by roasting or boiling.
To vote for the Melbourne Garden’s Bunya Bunya Pine as Tree of the Year and see the other extraordinary trees that are also in the running, click here. Voting closes 19 May 2019.