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Araucaria

From The Plant Encyclopedia

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Araucaria columnaris

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Araucaria

Category
Kingdom Plantae
Division
Class
Order Pinales
Family Araucariaceae
Species in this genus
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Aden Earth Zone

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Cultivation

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Characteristics

  • Form: Tree
  • Habit: Evergreen
  • Flower:
  • Fruit/Seed:
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  • Uses: Medicinal, Ornamental, Industrial

About

Araucaria is a Genus of Evergreen coniferous Trees in the family Araucariaceae. There are 19 Species in the genus, with a highly disjunct distribution in New Caledonia (where 13 species are endemic), Norfolk Island, eastern Australia, New Guinea, Argentina, Chile, and southern Brazil.

Description

Araucaria are mainly large trees with a massive erect stem, reaching a height of 30–80 m. The horizontal, spreading branches grow in whorls and are covered with leathery or needle-like leaves. In some species, the leaves are narrow awl-shaped and lanceolate, barely overlapping each other, in others they are broad and flat, and overlap broadly.

The trees are mostly dioecious, with male and female cones found on separate trees, though occasional individuals are monoecious or change sex with time. The female cones, usually high on the top of the tree, are Globose, and vary in size between species from 7–25 cm diameter. They contain 80-200 large, Edible seeds, similar to Pine nuts though larger. The male cones are smaller, 4–10 cm long, and narrow to broad cylindrical, 1.5–5 cm broad.

Distribution

Many if not all current populations are relicts, and of restricted distribution. They are found in Forest and Maquis shrubland, with an affinity for exposed sites. These columnar trees are Living fossils, dating back to early in the Mesozoic age. Fossil records show that the genus also formerly occurred in the northern hemisphere until the end of the Cretaceous period. By far the greatest diversity exists in New Caledonia, due to the island's long isolation and stability.

Uses

Some of the species are relatively common in cultivation because of their distinctive, formal symmetrical growth habit. Several species are economically important for Timber production and the edible seeds.

Etymology of name

The genus is familiar to many people as the genus of the distinctive Monkey-puzzle tree Araucaria araucana. The genus is named after the Spanish Exonym "Araucano" (Araucanian) applied to the Mapuches of central Chile and south-west Argentina whose territory incorporates natural stands of this species, where it is known as the Pehuén. Some Mapuches living in the Andes name themselves Pehuenches ('people of the Pehuén') as they traditionally harvested the seeds extensively for food. No distinct vernacular name exists for the genus; many are called 'pine', despite their being only very distantly related to Pines (Pinus).

Classification and species list

Petrified Araucaria cone from patagonia-Edit3.jpg
There are two sections in the genus, sometimes treated as separate genera:
  • Section Araucaria. Leaves broad; cones more than 12 cm diameter; seed germination Hypogeal. Syn. sect. Columbea; sometimes subdivided into three sections or subsections.
    • Araucaria angustifolia. Paraná Pine (obsolete: Brazilian Pine, Candelabra Tree). Southeastern Brazil, northeastern Argentina.
    • Araucaria araucana. Monkey-puzzle or Pehuén (obsolete: Chile Pine). Central Chile & western Argentina.
    • Araucaria bidwillii. Bunya-bunya. Eastern Australia (sometimes placed in sect. Bunya).
    • Araucaria hunsteinii. Klinki. New Guinea (sometimes placed in sect. Intermedia).
  • Section Eutacta. Leaves narrow, awl-like; cones less than 12 cm diameter; seed germination Epigeal.
Juvenile Araucaria Sapling.jpg

Gallery

External links

Uses in popular culture

An araucaria plant is a prominent item in Herman Hesse's novel Steppenwolf.

Araucaria Forests New Caledonia and Chile is used as Triassic Forested Plains of Arizona and Cretaceous Forests of Montana in Walking with Dinosaurs.