Conifers Garden - Online Conifer Nursery


Araucaria heterophylla

Araucaria heterophylla
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Scientific name: Araucaria heterophylla   (Salisb.) Franco 1952

Synonims: Abies columbaria Desf., Eutassa heterophylla Salisb.

Common names: Norfolk Island pine, Australian pine, House pine, Living Christmas tree, Norfolk pine, Polynesian pine, Star pine, Triangle tree



Tree to 50-60(-70) m tall, with trunk to 2(-3) m in diameter. Bark light brown, peeling in thin scales and layers. Crown long remaining conical, becoming somewhat egg-shaped with age, with very regular tiers of four to seven slender, horizontal branches bearing two evenly spaced combs of branchlets for much of their length. Branchlets slender, extending horizontally or shallowly V-shaped in young trees, extending upward in a narrower V near the top of mature trees, remaining green many years before being shed intact, largely hidden by the foliage. Juvenile leaves soft, awl-shaped, sticking straight out or bent inward and not overlapping, 8-12(-20) mm long. Adult leaves stiff and hard, scalelike or transitional between claw- and scalelike, slightly keeled, tightly overlapping like a braided cord or whip, 4-6(-10) mm long. Stomates ranging from parallel to perpendicular to the long axis of the leaf, in incomplete, irregular lines occupying large patches on the inner (upper) face and confined to the base of the outer face where they are hidden by the overlapping leaves. Pollen cones 3.5-5 cm long, 10-13 mm thick, each pollen scale with 6-10 pollen sacs in a single or partially doubled row. Seed cones approximately spherical (7.5-)9-12 cm long and wide, green at maturity. Seed scales 2.5-4.5 cm long and 1.8-3.8 cm wide, including the papery wings, which are narrower than the 1.2-2 cm wide seed-bearing portion, with a sharp, narrowly triangular upturned tip 5-12 mm long. Seed almond-shaped, about 3 cm long and 1.5 cm wide. Cotyledons emerging above ground during germination.

Norfolk Islands. Forming pure stands or towering above mixed rain forests; 0-250(-315) m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable

Endemic to Norfolk Island (Australia) and two nearby islands. On Norfolk Island itself, natural forests are largely restricted to the Mt Pitt (316 m) area of the Norfolk Island National Park. It also occurs on Phillip Island, a 4 km² small island 6 km south of Norfolk Island. The natural vegetation on this island was largely destroyed by rabbits and other introduced animals by the 1970s and almost all Araucarias were lost. Despite ongoing problems with invasive species and relatively recent problems with dieback, there is insufficient evidence of current decline. However, its restricted distribution and dependence on continued conservation programmes to limit the impacts of invasive species indicate that an assessment of Vulnerable  is warranted.  Logging has been a threat in the past, historically heavily exploited at a local level for construction. Natural populations are no longer exploited. Widely cultivated in many parts of the world, particularly coastal areas. The majority of the remaining natural stands are within the Norfolk Island National Park. A range of public and private restoration activities is being undertaken that is aimed at increasing the extent of the natural vegetation through replanting and invasive species control and removal. The natural vegetation of Phillip Island is slowly recovering following the elimination of goats and pigs in the 1920s and the more recent removal of rabbits.



  • Farjon, A. (2010). A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.
  • Eckenwalder, J.E. (2009) Conifers of the World: The Complete Reference. Timber Press, Portland.
  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Cambridge, UK /Gland, Switzerland

Copyright © Aljos Farjon, James E. Eckenwalder, IUCN, Conifers Garden. All rights reserved.

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