Wollemi Pine Zone Pushing

Discussion in 'Araucariaceae' started by David Peters, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. David Peters

    David Peters Member

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    I am quite certain that USDA zone 5 is the equivalent of Canadian zone 6 which is where I am located. We are fully capable of getting -20C and well below, however, the winters are becoming milder overall but abnormal or infrequent cold snaps can happen now at the most unlikely times. In a neighbouring town - same zone 6 - there is a 15 foot plus Monkey Puzzle specimen. Not certain of the age, but I was going to college there in 1988 and a severe artic front crept all the way down from Alaska and it was below -50C with the wind chill....perhaps they built its own enclosure for it if it was present then.
     
  2. coxarboretum

    coxarboretum Member

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    Last week here in Canton, Georgia (USDA Zone 7) we experienced one night at 24 F (7 C) and had no apparrent damage. We are also growing this plant in very moist soil which I believe is beneficial but not necessary. As to the size of plant as a factor of survivability, we have found that after several growing seasons, we gain approximately 1/2 zone of increased hardiness as roots establish and more wood is produced. Also, many less cold tolerant plants will survive here because our cold snaps seldom last longer than 2 days vs. a longer period where the plant perishes at the same temperature we experience.

    On an unrelated subject, does anyone know the soil pH where Cathaya naturally occurs?
     
  3. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    All I could locate looks like limestone = alkaline

    "Cathaya is confined to a limited area in southern China, in the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan and southeast Sichuan. It is found on steep, narrow mountain slopes at 950-1800 m altitude, on limestone soils."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathaya

    http://www.conifers.org/pi/ca/index.htm

    did a google search : Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan and southeast Sichuan soil type
    and got a lot of scientific stuff.

    Liz
     
  4. Tim MA z6

    Tim MA z6 Member

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  5. David Peters

    David Peters Member

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    Those temperatures will definitely test the limits for the Wollemi Pine cold tolerance. Your photo of your Monkey Puzzle tree was very similar to mine three years ago when it was fully exposed to -18C without windchill factor. It fully recovered and this year the terminal leader grew a respectable 9 inches.
     
  6. Luke Harding

    Luke Harding Active Member

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    Hi,
    I've just returned from Mount Annan botanical gardens in Oz, having visited the Wollemi research station. They are proving to be very hardy in the tests carried out over there. They are actually quite robust plants. They have also survived millions of years and several ice ages. Some of you may already know that the Wollemi Pine wasn't always restricted to small gorges in Australia and at one point was one of the most widespread species. Fossilised trunks of Wollemi still sit on the surface in parts of Antarctica, a totally different continent. There is evidence that they were found on other continents too.
    Young plants have survived pretty low temps here in our little frost pocket. We've had -12 several times with no snow to insulate the trees and on top of that an extra minus 10 wind chill factor. The only damage I have noticed is to foliage which has been sitting in puddles which have frozen solid. Young buds have the white 'wax' covering and have not been affected at all.
    I'm unsure of what zone I'm in here but where we keep them is pretty darn cold compared to the surrounding area.
     
  7. coxarboretum

    coxarboretum Member

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    Luke,

    You make a good point. An example of this is Torreya taxifolia who's range is restricted to the northern panhandle of Florida where it seldom dips below freezing. Yet, the plant has proven hardy as far north as Boston where the temperature difference is as much as 30 degrees colder. What this suggest is that in the case of Torreya, the last glaciation caused the to shift southward and now they only occur naturally in a very restricted area, yet the DNA of the plant allows them to survive in much colder climes. Could be the same for Wollemi. Thanks for the update.
     
  8. Luke Harding

    Luke Harding Active Member

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    Interesting you should bring up the subject of tree DNA. Wollemia nobilis is unique in the world of trees in that all known trees have identical DNA. This would suggest that the tree has gone as far as evolution will allow it ie. the tree is as perfect as it can be and cannot improve its ability to adapt. Strangely though, not all Wollemis share growth characteristics and there is a fair amount of difference in foliage types between individual trees. Does this indicate that there is something other than DNA that determines how an individual will turn out? Something perhaps that we don't yet understand? This is first hand experience of the wonder of nature at work. We still have a lot to learn
     
  9. Greyspruce

    Greyspruce Member

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    I have 2 wollemi pines one planted out last spring I think they are fantastic
    and have that real prehistoric look to them.I think they will survive -15c/5f
     
  10. Tim MA z6

    Tim MA z6 Member

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    has anyone seen a Wollemi get cold damage after being properly prepared for winter?

    I checked my Wollemi again this afternoon and it still appears OK with no apparent damage. Last night's low was 5F (-15C). We had two cold nights in a row now.......although we typically get a little colder than 3F & 5F each winter. Our normal low is -5F to 0F.
     
  11. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    When Araucariaceae were widespread, the world was a much different place. Antarctica was a temperate forest with dinosaurs,...nothing like it is today. Cold temperatures, snow, and ice arrived much later in history. Two, we also have to remember that the cuttings that were taken from the Wollemia nobilis have the same DNA, suggesting that all the trees found in that gorge in Australia may be descendants of a single tree...a lone survivor. In otherwords, all the others died off, suggesting that W. nobilis may not be as hardy as some would like to think.

    Given how rare the plant is, I believe that more controlled study is needed before it can be determined just how "cold-hardy" the plant is. At this time, I believe those growing the plant should be a little more respectful and responsible and not try to "zone push" the plant, risking its death.

    My 2 cents worth...
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2008
  12. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    I am not convinced that evolution and the ability to adapt is finite. I believe what we have seen with Wollemia nobilis may be unique in the sense that these trees may be descendants of a lone survivor and living in a very specific environment. What we may see over the years, as these young seedlings are distributed around the world, grown in different environments, mature, and begin the process of reproduction, there will be some evidence of some genetic variation. We may see some "cold-hardy" cultivars, as well as, some variation in color and morphology. Time will tell.
     
  13. Luke Harding

    Luke Harding Active Member

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    You could well be right about the production of future strains which could be hardier. However, there are two wild populations of Wollemia known (the DNA being exactly the same between both groups apparently)and they are divided by quite a distance with deep gorges in between. This makes it highly unlikely that both populations stem from one lone survivor.
    Also, the trees being distributed around the world are not seedlings. They have all been vegetatively propagated. Seedlings are a very rare occurence in the wild due to the lack of mature trees producing pollen.
    My reference to this species being found on the Antarctic continenet wasn't an attempt to prove its hardiness. Apologies if it came across as being so. I was merely pointing out that Wollemia is not restricted to Australasia. I am well aware that this continent was once much, much warmer.
    I think it is fantastic that the Wollemi Pine has generated so much interest and it is really interesting to hear opinions from others on here.
    Indeed, time will tell!
     
  14. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    This is information I posted on another thread about Wollemei fossils found about 30 km as the crow flies from where I live. This makes it closer to Antartica than the Sydney lot :)) I wonder if they will find them when the ice all melts in Antartica.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Was listening to a local radio gardening program (Vic Aust.). There was mention of the pollen from Wollemia pine in fossil remains This fossil bed is at the bottom of a disused quarry that is part of a large municipal park. It was the head of the park that was being interviewed and he mentioned the pollen finds. I can't find reference to the pollen in articles on the park.

    Also
    http://www.berwickvillage.com.au/wil...tanic_park.htm

    " Further study has shown that the site contains the earliest dated eucalyptus in the world and that tropical rainforest existed here 20million years ago. Some petrified wood has also been found"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilson_Botanic_Park

    http://www.casey.vic.gov.au/wilsonbotanicpark/

    Liz
     
  15. Tim MA z6

    Tim MA z6 Member

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    Sorry, but I respectively disagree with your statement. Pushing the limits is very important. I don't consider taking a cutting off a plant and testing for hardiness 'not respectful' and 'not responsible'. Should the Wollemi die this winter, many, many, many people in USDA zones 7A and 7B may elect not to plant theirs outside....therefore I really saved 100's of Wollemi's lives with my one cutting.

    1. I know of no data that the Wollemi Pine has suffered damage by cold...NONE.
    2. my Wollemi arrived stating that it's a USDA zone 7 plant and may be hardier. I'm USDA zone 6B. Not really pushing the limits that much. I hope someone in USDA zone 5 and 4 and even 3 try this. We won't know how hardy this tree is until it's tested. My zone 6b is different than a 6b in Tennessee and is different than a 6b in Ontario.
    3. I love knowledge. If people didn't push the limits we would not know about loads of plants. We could fill a book with plants which are grown further north than their natural ranges. How many of us are growing plants that are at least 2 zones colder than where the plant 'naturally' grows? I am.
     
  16. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    I am sorry you may have taken some personal offense to my statements. I do agree with your points of view, to a certain degree. Forums like this are an excellent way for us to share our experiences with growing plants like this. I would encourage you to continue to do so. However, as you stated, all zone 6b's are not the same. You have one tree. I suggested that more controlled scientific studies, with many plants, under different environmental conditions be performed, published, and shared. This is one of the roles of plant research facilities like at the UBC. This will take some time.

    In the mean time, until this plant is successfully reestablished, whether in its native environment and/or in cultivation, risking the plant's well-being is, well...personally, I wouldn't do it.

    No hard feelings, Tim. Continue to share your information.
     
  17. David Peters

    David Peters Member

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    I also agree with the response put forward by TimMAz6, but understand your passion for limited risk preservation Markinwestmich. If there were a finite amount of cuttings distributed around the world then perhaps us persons interested in zone pushing would approach the situation with added caution. But as I write this message the minimum recommended planting zone - USDA zone 8 - for the Wollemi Pine is receiving serious climatic weather extremes that would be testing its cold threshold, while here in my zone Canadian zone 6 have yet to experience any temperature below -7 C.

    In the current times where the worlds weather patterns are less predictable than ever, a zone 6 planting of Wollemi Pine maybe not be as risky as one might perceive due to Greenhouse house effects and or variations in local microclimates. For myself, I would struggle with why persons who purchased cuttings would intentionally plant them indoors. Yes it is their prerogative to enjoy them as they may, but what does the future hold for the plant as it develops. Are people going to elevate their ceiling height incrementally to accommodate the trees growth or the assured alternative to conduct serious cultural manipulation.

    Using a tangential analogy I would personally equate the planting of Wollemi pine indoors to preserving animals in a Zoo. If their habitat is eliminated and their is no hope of re-establishment why preserve them. Unless man is hit with an enormous epiphany or experiences a catastrophic population reduction, my philosophy is that there would be more dignity in their natural death -even if that results in extinction. That being said I would rather my plant perish form climatic extremes than watch it grow under glass....just an opinion and one of many.
     
  18. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    Well said.

    I guess, I am one of those people that is quite bothered by the fact that we still have an opportunity to save an entire family of trees, Araucariaceae, and there doesn't appear to be an active push within the botanical community to cultivate many of the species, even when they are on the critically endangered list. You can purchase the seeds to eat them, but trying to find a young tree to plant is extremely difficult. Years ago Ginko biloba and the Dawn Redwood trees were extremely rare, thought to be extinct,...now they are common as Maple and Oaks around here. I realize that many of us in the colder zones will not be able to enjoy the majesty of seeing a huge grove of Araucaria, Wollemi, or Agathis, but I sure wouldn't mind going on a holiday down south and seeing them.
     
  19. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    You could even travel north some too, in the right places . . . this grove of Araucaria araucana is at 55°38'N (that's 1,300km further north than Grand Rapids, MI ;-)
     

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  20. David Peters

    David Peters Member

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    Great Photo, A person could think they are in southern Chile. I presume this must be located near the Scottish border.
     
  21. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Thanks!! 55°38'36"N 1°55'05"W, looking southwest, if you want to look up the exact location on google earth. They are regenerating very nicely.
    More pics: http://www.pinetum.org/kyloe4.htm (scroll half-way down for Araucaria)
     
  22. coxarboretum

    coxarboretum Member

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    Michael,

    Your pictures are outstanding. Who says conifers don't photograph well.
     
  23. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Thanks!
     
  24. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Michael F ... Your photo may be taken 1,300 kms north, but it's considerably milder than Grand Rapids, Michigan.
    I have a relative from Calgary, Alberta that saw Araucaria while visiting here a number of years ago. She "just had to have one" and take it home. I explained that it wouldn't survive her cold winter. We made a trip to the nursery for the purchase and she returned home with her new Araucaria. Next spring I inquired about the Monkey Puzzle tree and sure enough it had perished.

    Cheers, LPN.
     
  25. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Hi LPN,

    Yep, I know . . . I was just mentioning that one doesn't have to head south from Grand Rapids to get to somewhere warmer ;-)
     

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