Episode 3 – Araucaria heterophylla, aka Norfolk Island pine

Episode three of Every Plant Deserves a Podcast centers around Araucaria heterophylla, aka the Norfolk Island pine. We recorded this episode in late November, which is about the time that garden centers, box stores, and grocery stores fill up with this lovely Australian-native conifer. It’s sold as a “living Christmas tree” – a plant you can use to fill that role during the holidays, and then go on to keep (ostensibly) as a houseplant for years to come. But the fact is that Norfolk Island pine is pretty farm from ideal as a houseplant, as you’ll discover in the episode when we talk about the very unique climate of Norfolk Island and how different that is from the conditions in the average North American home, especially during winter.

Learn more about Norfolk Island, Mutiny on the Bounty, living fossils, the issue of glitter on your Araucaria heterophylla, and how you can hopefully/maybe find success growing this tree indoors.

Listen to Every Plant Deserves a Podcast wherever you get your podcasts, and read on for links and resources that we mention in this episode. 

Several Norfolk Island pines planted in a row along a coast.

Araucaria heterophylla in the wild…

(Photo credit to Kahuroa, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

…and in captivity.

(Photo credit to Ponaksom, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Right off the bat: here’s where Norfolk Island is.

The fascinating story of Wollemia nobilis, a relative of Araucaria heterophylla, known only from the fossil record until a grove was discovered in New South Wales, Australia, in 1994.

Read about the Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction, which wiped out the abundant Araucaria sp. that once grew across North America (oh yeah – the dinosaurs got wiped out then, too). 

Araucaria wood is not generally suitable for use as structural timber, but here’s some info on its use in decorative applications.

The history of Norfolk Island is quite a ride…

This quick read on the climate of Norfolk Island will help you figure out the best place for your Araucaria heterophylla indoors – or at least help you understand why yours is struggling.

A useful link for those of you lucky enough to be able to grow Araucaria heterophylla outdoors all year-round.

A monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana.

In this episode, we also discuss the monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana, a close relative of Araucaria heterophylla. It has a coarser habit and much larger “needles”; It’s also much hardier and can be grown in areas as cold as USDA zone 7.

This species, native to Chile, was the first such described, which explains why the family (Araucaraceae) and all other members of the genus bear this name, despite being native to the South Pacific. Learn more and see more pics in this great article.


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