WASHINGTON–National Geographic is introducing the Wollemi Pine, one of the world’s oldest and rarest trees, to the United States this holiday season. The Wollemi Pine was thought to have gone extinct 2 million years ago, but a small grove of trees was discovered in Australia’s Blue Mountains by New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service Officer David Noble. As fewer than 100 trees exist in the wild, extensive research to conserve and propagate this ancient species is underway. Soon U.S. consumers will have a unique opportunity to assist in the efforts to preserve this dinosaur-era relic by purchasing a tree for their home.
Dubbed “one of the most significant botanical finds of this century” by renowned botanist Ken Hill of the Sydney Botanic Gardens, this exceptional tree is a member of the 200-million-year-old Araucariaceae family. The tree boasts many unusual characteristics, such as distinctive bark that looks like bubbling chocolate, multiple trunks and deep green fern-like foliage. It is capable of surviving a broad range of temperatures, from 23 degrees F to 113 degrees F.
Buying a pine will not only help protect the species but will also safeguard its continued survival. Easy to grow and requiring minimal maintenance, Wollemia nobilis — named for the Wollemi National Park in which it was found and David Noble — is versatile as either an indoor plant or a garden plant in partial shade or full sun. The pines will retail at $99.95 for an approximately 10-inch-tall plant and will be introduced in October 2006 in limited supply via the National Geographic Holiday Catalog (888-225-5647) and at www.nationalgeographic.com/Wollemipine.
“The commitment to explore, conserve and educate is core to all of National Geographic’s endeavors,” said Krista Newberry, National Geographic vice president, licensing, home category. “We are working with Floragem, a company that creates consumer horticultural products, to bring the Wollemi Pine to North America, offering consumers here the chance to be a part of this incredible living history and help ensure the continued survival of this ancient tree.”
Through National Geographic’s licensing partnership with Floragem, a portion of the sales will go directly to Wollemi Pine International Pty. Ltd., whose mission is to conserve the Wollemi Pine for future generations and to raise awareness of conservation internationally. Through public participation, Wollemi Pine International will repopulate the Wollemi Pine and return royalties to fund conservation of these trees and other threatened and endangered species. For more information about Wollemi Pine International and the Wollemi Pine, visit www.wollemipine.com.
About National Geographic
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 350 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and four other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; radio programs; films; books; videos and DVDs; maps; and interactive media. National Geographic has funded more than 8,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy. For more information, visit nationalgeographic.com.
Floragem is a brand-marketing company creating consumer horticultural products. Its Web site is at www.floragem.com.