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One of the world’s oldest and rarest trees is being planted today to launch Christchurch Botanic Gardens’ 150th anniversary.
The Wollemi pine is a living fossil from the dinosaur age, only recently discovered in New South Wales, Australia. Fewer than 100 mature specimens are still alive in the wild.
“This is the very first Wollemi pine to be planted in New Zealand and it’s a real coup for the Christchurch Botanic Gardens to acquire such a rare specimen,” says Mayor Bob Parker.
In 1994, park ranger David Noble stumbled across some ancient-looking pines growing in a remote canyon in the rainforests of the Blue Mountains, New South Wales.
Until his remarkable find, this tree was thought to have been extinct for millions of years.
Living seedlings of Wollemi pine cannot be imported because of the risk of introducing diseases that could spread to other plants. The Christchurch Botanic Gardens’ Wollemi pine
was grown by tissue culture under licence at Ambrosia Nurseries near Christchurch, after getting approval from the Environmental Protection Authority and iwi.
The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney originally gifted former Christchurch Botanic Gardens Curator David Given with a Wollemi Pine. The late David Given was highly regarded
internationally for his role in the conservation of New Zealand native plants.
The planting also launches the Gondwana Garden, named after the ancient, vast southern landmass. The garden is located near the Children’s Playground.
“This new garden will feature some of the oldest plants known in the Southern Hemisphere. Here you will eventually be able to walk among modern representatives of plants growing at the time of the dinosaurs including kauri and monkey puzzles,” says Mayor Bob Parker.