The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) has planted what are being dubbed ‘living fossils’ at the Society’s Garden Wisley and Rosemoor, as part of an international conservation effort.
The rare species of conifer, Wollemi pine trees, also referred to as the ‘dinosaur tree’ which lived through two major ice ages, is now under threat from Australian wildfires.
Thought to be extinct 70 – 90 million years ago until 1994 when Australian botanist David Noble discovered a cluster of the species in a remote forge in the Wollemi National Park in New South Wales.
With the increasing risk of wildfires and the spread of pests and diseases, Botanic Gardens of Sydney has teamed-up with Forestry England and organised a planting initiative, aimed at creating a diverse population of ‘dinosaur trees’ around the world.
RHS Wisley and RHS Rosemoor are among 28 botanic gardens in the UK and Europe chosen to participate in the initiative, with 170 young Wollemi pine trees being shipped over from Sydney.
RHS director of horticulture and gardens, Tim Upson, says: “Six Wollemi pines around 3 or 4 foot high have been planted at RHS Garden Wisley and another six at RHS Garden Rosemoor – both are suitable but different climates with it being much wetter in Devon.
“They will be cared for and carefully monitored by the curatorial teams and allowed to grow to full maturity.”
Separate collections were sent direct from Sydney to five Australian gardens and one in Atlanta, USA.