Appreciation: Ancient Norfolk Island Pine in Ecuador

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by lorax, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I don't often have cause to post here in Gymnosperms, but I wanted to share this one with you guys. It's Araucaria heterophylla, and it's well over 200 years old.

    What I love about this tree, more than anything else, is that it's growing so far out of what's considered the "correct" biome for NA Pines. It's in upper Ficoa, Ambato, Tungurahua - a landlocked sierra province in Ecuador, at an elevation of around 3,000 meters. The person in the scale picture is 165 cm tall.
     

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  2. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    Stupendous and beautiful! What my 2 little ones (about 10" tall) can aspire to.
    Good to know that you are still there, lorax! Was afraid that the volcano had claimed you.
     
  3. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Nah, I'm a good 25 km away from Mama Tungurahua. Sound and lights, nothing more.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    How do we know this planting is 200 years old?
     
  5. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Juan Montalvo, one of the most famous writers from Ecuador in the 1800s, mentions this particular tree, which is in the front yard of the house he grew up in and later lived in, in his writings. Montalvo was born in 1832; his journal entries make very clear mention of sitting beneath it to study and enjoying the birdsong, and there are at least two poems of his that reference it as well. There are also a couple of early photolithographs of him standing with the tree, overlooking the city. Those date from around 1840, and provide photographic evidence - it was large even then.

    If the tree was large in the mid 1800s, that would make it at least 200 years old. You're welcome to come to Ambato and try to convince the botanical garden staff, some of whom are Montalvo's direct descendants, that you'd like to take cores to verify this.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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  7. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I suspect I should contact them, then. They may not have been aware of the trees' presence in the Ecuadorian highlands. Certainly it's not a native planting; I expect Montalvo's father or grandfather planted it from seeds acquired on trips to Australia - the Norfolk Pine has the same history in Ecuador as the Eucalyptus, although the conifer is considerably less weedy here. Both got here around 230 years ago, as part of trade with the island.

    Edit to add: we've also got some really amazing specimens of Araucaria araucana and A. angustifolia of at least 150 years of age in our central parks.
     

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