The Wollemi Pine

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flickr_-_brewbooks_-_Wollemi_nobilis_%E2%80%9CWollemi_Pine%E2%80%9D.jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

In 1994 bushwalker David Noble abseiled off a cliff 150 kilometers northwest of Sydney and found himself in a very deep canyon surrounded by trees with strange serrated leaves and curious bubbly bark.

He took a sample back to his colleagues at the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service and discovered that he’d found one of the greatest living fossils of the 20th century, with roots in the age of dinosaurs 110-120 million years ago. Somehow the species had survived raging brushfires and 17 ice ages, apparently by retreating to a single canyon in a national park.

The location of that canyon has been kept secret to protect the survivors, which numbered only 100 adult trees in three or four patches, but a special auction in 2005 raised more than a million dollars from bidders eager to receive the first trees cultivated from the rare conifers.

Tim Entwistle, executive director of Sydney’s Botanic Gardens Trust, said that when he learned about Noble’s discovery he went through the classic stages of botanical shock: disbelief, amazement, and excitement. “The Wollemi Pine is a unique reminder that the world is full of undiscovered wonders, that there is a lot more to know about our planet and a lot to protect.”

(Richard Allen and Kimbal Baker, Australia’s Remarkable Trees, 2009.)

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Update

Hi, everyone. This is just another update — I need to keep the Futility Closet website suspended for another month, through July, because the libraries I use are still closed due to the pandemic. We’re still producing the podcast in the meantime, and the archives are here if you’d like to browse them. If I can’t start up again in August I’ll post another update here. If you have any questions you can always reach me at greg@futilitycloset.com. Take care of yourselves!

Greg

Update

Hi, all. Just another update here — all the libraries here are still closed, so I need to keep the Futility Closet website suspended through June, as I can’t do the research until they reopen. We’re fine here otherwise, and we’re still producing the podcast each week in the meantime. At the moment there’s no word on when things might return to normal; if I can’t start up the site again in July then I’ll post an update here. If you have any questions you can always reach me at greg@futilitycloset.com. Stay safe!

Greg

Update

Hi, everyone. Just an update here — I’d hoped to resume writing the Futility Closet website in May, but all the libraries are still closed here due to the pandemic, so I’ll have to extend the hiatus. We’re fine here otherwise, and will continue to produce the podcast. I’ll post more updates as events warrant, and the archives are available in the meantime. If you have any questions you can reach me at greg@futilitycloset.com. Take care of yourselves!

Greg

Pausing

Hi, everyone. I’m going to need to suspend the Futility Closet website for the month of April — we’re fine here, but North Carolina has issued a stay-at-home order due to the pandemic, so I can’t reach my libraries to do the research.

Hopefully we can start up again in May; if not, I’ll post an update here. In the meantime the archive is still available, and we hope to keep producing the podcast during this interval.

If you have any questions you can reach me at greg@futilitycloset.com. Thanks, as always, for reading, and stay safe!

Greg

Books

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