Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Araucaria columnaris (Forst.f.) Hook.

Frost-tender evergreen conical tree with whorled branches when young, becoming narrowly columnar as the lower branches are lost, to be replaced by short shoots on the main trunk. The female cones are ellipsoid, to 15cm long, the male cones smaller and circular.  To 50m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Although known since Captain Cook’s voyages, it is believed to have been first grown at Kew Gardens and the Horticultural Society’s garden at Chiswick about 1851, probably the plants referred to by Macarthur below. ‘In this country our first knowledge of this tree is derived from young plants kindly sent to the Royal Gardens in the autumn of 1851 by the Horticulural Society of London, and his Excellency Sir William Denison, Governor of Van Diemen’s Land.  Capt. Erskine, R.N., of H.M.S. Havannah, had recently visited New Caledonia and some of the adjacent islands, and had invited Mr. Moore, of the Botanic Garden, Sydney, to accompany him; and to Mr. Moore’s energy and kindness we are indebted for the re-discovery of this tree.’  [BM t.4635/1852].  FS f.733-734/1851.

History at Camden Park

Listed only in the 1857 catalogue [C.12/1857] but almost certainly grown in the gardens for close to ten years before this.  There are a number of large specimens surviving in the gardens and surrounding grounds.  Macarthur sent one plant to England in 1848, almost certainly to Loddiges’ Nursery but this is unclear from the records.  ‘12 Araucaria excelsa.  1 Araucaria, fine new species from New Caledonia (the only one I could obtain out of five imported) all the foregoing are in fine condition. [ … ] the New Caledonia species I obtained as a great favour.  I think two have been sent to England and I know of two more in the colony one of which I am taking care of for Mr. Bidwill, the other I mean to try and obtain for you in exchange for something else.  You will see at once by the plant I send that it is distinct from A. Excelsa and it is probably tender that is with reference to cold for it is otherwise quite hardy.  There is little prospect of getting a further supply.  The only vessels which visit these islands are the sandal wood traders and it is very rarely that one can find a Captain amongst them who will take the least trouble in such a matter.  The trees are described as being most magnificent.’  [MP A2933-1, p.172].


Published Jul 27, 2009 - 09:47 AM | Last updated Jul 14, 2010 - 02:33 PM

Illustrated are female cones and leaves.  BM t.4635, 1852.

Araucaria columnaris (Forst.f.) Hook. | BM t.4635/1852 | BHL

Family Araurcariaceae
Region of origin

New Caledonia

  • Araucaria cookii R.Br. ex D.Don
  • Araucaria excelsa Lamb.
Common Name

Cook pine, New Caledonian pine

Name in the Camden Park Record

Araucaria Cookii  

Confidence level high