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Huon pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii )

Huon pine  (Lagarostrobos franklinii )
 
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Huon pine
( Lagarostrobos franklinii )

It is a slow growing, but long-lived tree; some living specimens of this tree are in excess of 2000 years in age. It grows to 10-20 m tall, exceptionally reaching 30 m, with arching branches and pendulous branchlets. The leaves are spirally arranged, very small and scale-like, 1-3 mm long, covering the shoots completely. It is dioecious, with male (pollen) and female (seed) cones on separate plants. The male cones are yellow, 5-8 mm long and 1-2 mm broad. The mature seed cones are highly modified, berry-like, with 5-10 lax, open scales which mature in 6-8 months, with one seed 2-2.5 mm long on each scale. Unlike the closely related New Zealand genus Manoao, the scales do not become fleshy and are water-dispersed, not bird-dispersed (Molloy 1995).

A stand of trees reputed to be in excess of 10,500 years in age was recently found in North Western Tasmania on Mount Read. Each of the trees in this stand is a genetically identical male that has reproduced vegetatively. Although no single tree in this stand is of that age, the stand itself as a single organism has existed that long.

The wood was highly prized for its golden yellow colour, fine grain and natural oils that resisted rotting. The chemical that gives the timber its unique smell and preservative qualities is methyl eugenol. Heavy logging of the trees for its fine timber coupled with the trees' slow growth has led to remaining stands being less than 10,500 hectares (26,000 acres). The remaining stands of this species of tree now has protected status within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

 


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