Common Name: Bunya-Bunya, Bunya Pine (sometimes refered to as False monkey tree being of same Genus). In Aboriginal language the tree was known as bunya, bonye, bunyi and bunya-bunya (so its not hard to see where Europeans got their common name from).
Etymology: Araucaria: Araucanos, the name of a tribe in South America where another species was first collected. bidwillii: After John Carne Bidwill (1815-1853) botanical collector.
Origin: Bunya mountains, north of Brisbane, Queensland and Port Douglas.
Description: Evergreen coniferous tree 20-26m tall, 10-12m wide, up to 50m tall in natural habitat. Conical becoming medium domed with a flat top if grown in the open. In its natural rainforest habitat this tree is an emergent, it forms a tall in branched trunk with a flat topped canopy the stands above the surrounding canopy.
Foliage: Spirally arranged, stiff narrow lanceolate to 60mm long, with sharp pointed apex, bright green aging to shiny dark green.
Bark: Brown with black markings, pealing off in thin layers.
Flowers: Male catkins, narrow cylindrical, greenish yellow spikes to 200mm long in spring.
Fruit: Cones start as small green ovoid and scaly in summer and grow into woody ovoid cones measuring 300mm x 200mm with large scales. Fully grown cones can weigh in excess of 5kg.
Growth Requirements: Prefers some shade as a young plant but a mature plant will require full sun for most of the day. Best grown in rich, moist well drained soil but will tolerate sandy or clay soils (growth will be slower in poorer soils). Plant is 2nd line salt tolerant, has moderate lime tolerance, smog tolerant and mild frost tolerant (once established).
Uses: Due to the size and weight of the cone on this tree it is considered too dangerous for many situations unless cone is removed annually. It can be used as a silouette tree, barrier or large screen tree, wind break, shade tree, in indoor tubs when young and as a bonsai. Traditional uses (by aboriginal people) were to eat the nut raw, cooked or more recently boiled. The nut was also ground into a paste to make bread or left in a running creek to be later eaten in a fermented state.
Maintenance: Train a single leader to develop a good shape, keep moist (as tree is not drought tolerant). Use native fertilizer or blood & bone for the first few years then will not require fertilizing. Remove developing cones if near property, cars or people.
Propagation: Sow seeds when ripe (usually autumn) plant the seeds to half their depth with the pointed end facing down.
- Own sources.