Published: 11 January 2013
Wollemi Pine
We take a look at the progress of the extremely rare Wollemi Pine growing at Lackham College in Wiltshire for the last few years.

The Wollemi Pine when newly planted in 2008.
In 2008, Wiltshire College Lackham was presented with a “Living Fossil” pine, by Mark Taylor from Kernock Park Plants of Cornwall.  This was the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis). 
The ancient pine species was thought to have been extinct for at least two million years, with the only known examples being fossils 175 million years old, a few plants were discovered in a gorge in Australia in 1994.  

This bizarre tree has leaves shaped like a Stegosaur’s tail and actually develops three main types of foliage and the bark, when the tree is mature, seems to look like bubbling chocolate. This has not yet developed on the Lackham specimen.  

The main growing buds in winter develop an attractive but unusual waxy coating (called polar caps) to protect the growing tips and this, it is thought may have helped it survive the many ice ages. 

Garden staff at the College was delighted to note that the tree has, this year for the first time, produced cones, the conditions at Lackham obviously suit it very well.
The bronze tint to the lower foliage is perfectly normal for this strange survivor in the amazing world of ancient plants.

The Campus

Lackham College is part of Wiltshire College; the campus is near the National Trust village of Lacock. Horticultural and countryside courses are run all year round with both full time and part time students attending from many parts of the UK.

There are also opportunities for amateur gardeners to attend short courses and events to increase their knowledge and practical skills in many aspects of gardening.

For details see the website: and follow the link to Lackham campus.

Image Credit: Tony Pratt, Lackham College
Reported by Chris Allen  

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