Lincoln College: Norfolk Island Pine

This particular tree growing in the grounds of Lincoln College on Ward Street, North Adelaide is a very fine specimen, and a landmark in this locality. It is more than 25 metres tall and is believed to have been planted in 1888, making it almost 130 years old.

This species is naturally confined to a small island in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand, but it has ‘cousins’ on the Australian mainland, and in South America. It is generally known as a Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla; syn. Araucaria excelsa). Heterophylla is Latin for ‘different leaves’, referring to their unusual features. It is in the Araucariaceae family. Araucaria refers to the tree’s use by the Araucarian Indians of Chile, South America, who ate its nuts for food. In Australia, it was used by British colonists for ship-building, and a number of industries attempted to commercialise its use, without success, except for the craft of wood-carving.

It is an evergreen pine, growing to a height of 50-60 metres, but not a true conifer. It was first noted by Captain James Cook in 1774. It is a tall, elegant ‘architectural’ tree, suited to avenue planting, as seen in many countries, including Australia. It is found in many of our states, and many of their cities, as avenues and landmark specimens.

It is considered to be of local importance. Compare this tree with the New Caledonia Pine (Araucaria columnaris) in the Adelaide Botanic Garden.