These Trees Live For Up To 450 Years …
Auracauria cunninghamii was once very common in South-East Queensland, but its popularity with the timber industry removed most large specimens from the landscape by the 1940s. These trees live for up to 450 years and can grow a trunk with a diameter of 1.8 metres. The largest recorded girth of 193cm was measured at Bowraville in New South Wales in 2017, while the tallest specimen at 44 metres was recorded in the Bunya Mountains in 2009.
With a light colour, fine grain, and toughness despite being a soft wood, the timber was used for masts and spars on sailing ships, for flooring, moulding and lining, as well as for beautiful furniture that readily accepts a stain. It was also used to establish the Australian plywood industry.
Now it is most commonly grown in plantations for sustainable harvest, but it can still be found in the wild. Lamington National Park still hosts some of these majestic giants.
Looking around the village, one can still see specimens in Tamborine, but they are not common. They grow so slowly that most don’t produce pine cones until 200 years into their lives.
I managed to pick one up for my garden from the Scenic Rim Council’s Nursery in Beaudesert as one of my free trees that I receive as a ratepayer.
It is tolerant of most soil types but requires regular moisture and full sun to achieve vigorous, but slow, growth. An annual feed of blood and bone and mulching is recommended by most sources.
It’s not a plant that you want to brush pass with any regularity as it is rather spiky, but this makes it ideal as a habitat tree, offering shelter to small birds and reptiles agile enough and small enough to avoid the spikes. The seed is a popular food for Cockatoos.
The bark naturally splits horizontally creating rings and this is believed to have given the Hoop Pine its common name.
By Jane Frost
Waxing lyrical about building a home
for birds, bees and the rest of my family …