Hoop pine, Moreton Bay pine, colonial pine, arakaria, Dorrigo Pine (Newbury [no date]).
This analysis recognizes two varieties, the type and papuana. There is some evidence to suggest that the plants of Magnetic Island, off the coast of Queensland, constitute a third variety: Araucaria cunninghamii var. glauca (Antoine) Endl. 1847. The photographs shown at left illustrate how the foliage and tree form of the Magnetic Island population differ from those of the type variety. These are the closest I have come to seeing the Magnetic Island trees and they certainly look much different from the type variety with regard to growth form.
Syn: For the type variety, Eutacta cunninghamii (Aiton ex D.Don) Link 1841; Eutassa cunninghamii (Aiton ex D.Don) Spach 1841; Araucaria glauca Antoine 1846; Araucaria cunninghamii Aiton ex D.Don var. glauca (Antoine) Endl. 1847; Araucaria cunninghamii Aiton ex D.Don var. longifolia Antoine 1846 (Farjon 1998).
"An asymetrical tree to 60 m. tall, 4 m. in girth. Bark rough, in horizontal bands, exfoliating in fine circular bands. Branches long, branchlets in tufts at the ends. Seasonal branchlets to 2 cm. in diameter. Juvenile leaves spirally arranged, green or glaucous, margins entire, flattened, stomata on both surfaces. Adult leaves scale-like, 0.8-2 cm. long, incurved, acute, imbricate, keeled on both sides, stomata on both surfaces. Male cone cylindrical, 2-3 cm. long by 5-7 mm. wide, with short involucral leaves, with 10 scales; microsporophylls rhombic, obtuse. Female cone ovoid, symetrical, 8-10 cm. long by 6-8 cm. wide, scales with longer reflexed spines than the New Guinea plants. Seeds 1.5 cm. long by 6-7 mm. wide, with narrow wings. Cotyledons 2, germination epigeal" (Silba 1986).
Bark heavily impregnated with resin, thus much more resistant to decay than the wood (Newbury [no date]).
Australia: Coastal tropical and subtropical rainforests from northern Queensland to Coffs Harbour in New South Wales, at 0-1000 m elevation (Silba 1986, Newbury [no date]). Variety papuana occurs in the Arfak Mountains of western New Guinea.
Zone 10 (cold hardiness limit between -1°C and +4.4°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).
Reputedly, the largest living specimens are in the Cunningham Gap area near the Queensland-New South Wales border. Curiously, the National Register of Big Trees (2012) does not appear to list any trees in habitat, but reports the largest hoop pine in Australia to be 183 cm dbh and 28.0 m tall (measured 2009), located in Tullera, NSW. The tallest tree in the Register is currently a 42.5 m specimen (measured 2009) at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, Australia.
"[T]rees growing in a seasonal tropical climate in north Queensland produce latewood during cooler and drier periods. Vascular cambium growth rates fluctuate, and slow-growing trees temporarily have inactive cambium around parts of the trunk so no growth ring is formed" (Ash 1983).
Widely planted in Australia, both ornamentally and in timber plantations. The timber is "a first-class softwood varying from almost white to cream or light brown. A plain timber of even texture without prominent grain or growth rings. Peels easily; the Australian plywood industry was founded largely on hoop pine. Virtually odourless. Durable in the dry but may be susceptible to fungi. Easy to work. Readily accepts a wide variety of stains and finishes. Uses: Plywood, cabinet work, furniture, flooring, mouldings and linings, boat building. At one time used for butter boxes, fruit boxes. Widely available" (Newbury [no date]).
In historic times it was an important source of timber for masts and spars of sailing ships. Here is a relevant historical account: "The Spitfire having sprung her topmast, some of the party landed at Magnetical Island for the purpose of cutting a pine spar on the morning of the 17th September... The formation of this island also is granitic, immense boulders of this rock lining the shores and being piled on the summits and strewed over the slopes of the hills in wild confusion. Lofty pines spring out of the crevices of the rocks, giving considerable beauty to the scenery. The timber of this pine is rather heavy, but tough, and with a beautiful grain, qualities which recommend it for house and boat building, furniture, &c. It appears most nearly allied to the Araucaria Cookei (the Moreton Bay Courier, December 15, 1860).
Have see widely in Queensland; the largest specimens (and, in the least-disturbed forest) were in Lamington Mountains National Park on the Queensland-New South Wales border. The trees are common in the area and Park personnel can direct you to the location of notable specimens.
This species is named for the celebrated early 19th Century Australia and New Zealand botanist Allan Cunningham (1791-1839).
I have a report from Magnetic Island that the cones of those trees are consumed by sulphur-crested white cockatoos Cacatua galerita (D. Simpson email 2009.10.09). This behavior is not surprising; see the A. angustifolia page for accounts of similar behavior by a corvid called the blue gralha, and many other conifers also constitute a food source for local birds. However, I have seen bird-conifer symbioses of this type only described for these two species of Araucaria.
For pollination mechanisms, see Araucaria.
Ash, J. 1983. Growth rings in Agathis robusta and Araucaria cunninghamii from tropical Australia. Australian Journal of Botany 31: 269-275.
National Register of Big Trees. 2012. Tree Register: National Registry of Big Trees. www.nationalregisterofbigtrees.com.au, accessed 2012.06.23.
Newbury, Keith. [no date]. WoodLink VWA Homepage-Hoop Pine. http://home.vicnet.net.au/~woodlink/woodlink.htm (accessed 2003.04.29, now defunct).
Last Modified 2012-11-23