My Wollemi Pine is Intersex

Wollemi Pine

Wollemi Pine with its first cones

My Wollemi Pine is quite exciting as it is a very new discovery, thought extinct until discovered just over a decade ago. Since it has not been cultivated for very long there are not many large specimens about and very little is known about its habit in cultivation, so it is a learning experience for all of us who have one.

From the first winter when it produced cute little wax balls to protect the ends of its branches (sorry I don’t have a picture and can’t find one on the web – doh!) to now when it has produced its first cones has been a non stop voyage of discovery. Even trying to find out why it makes different coloured needles each year has been a challenge, I think it is hungry and needs a lot of fertiliser to keep it green.

It is known that like its closest relative the Monkey Puzzle tree, some are male, some are female, and others like mine are both.

Male cone

Male cone on Wollemi Pine

Female cone

Female cone on Wollemi Pine

Now I just need to find out if it is self fertile and I can get some seeds. I have no idea where the nearest one is, it will just have to get along with my Monkey Puzzle!

Small Monkey Puzzle tree

Monkey Puzzle tree (small!)

Another relative is the Norfolk island pine, but it is far too cold to grow one of those north of the Scilly Isles and my greenhouse is not big enough


4 Responses to “My Wollemi Pine is Intersex”

  1. Carni Dafoe Says:

    Your Wollemi pine is rather unusual looking. I have been growing these for a few years. I know that they produce male pollen cones when they are quite young, but it seems that they don’t usually produce female seed cones until they are several years old at least, and reasonably large. Yours does not look very tall, and it has a lot of leaves which are all being wieghed down by the rather oversized cones developing on the ends! Have you been giving this plant huge amounts of fertiliser?

    • Suzie Tall Says:

      Hi Carni

      Yes, it is rather unique. It is in a very dry place so that may have some bearing on its nature. I have just been looking at a couple that have four times as much rainfall and they are twice as tall. I started feeding it when the needles started to go yellow, and it gets quite a lot of water in the summer from the hose. All of the female cones have now disintegrated but I have not been able to germinate any of the seeds. I am not expecting them to be viable, I have no idea where the nearest tree is that would cross pollinate it (it was expensive and I could not afford another one!), but it does produce a huge amount of pollen.

      It produced some fantastic huge polar caps the first winter, I wish I had taken a photo now, but has not made proper caps since. I would love to find some pictures of polar caps but have not found any, I guess they are rare.

  2. Carni Dafoe Says:

    I had my first seed cones mature this summer, although I did apply some pollen when the cones were younger, the amount of seed produced was very small. I have found only 14 seeds that look viable from all 12 cones. The seeds are loosely attached to the cone scales. Inviable seeds are either completely flat, as thin as paper, or have a bulge which is soft to the touch and clearly ‘deflated’. The viable seeds will have a firm rounded bulge to them.
    It takes a long time to search though all the hundreds of cone scales looking for those with viable seeds attached.
    I have noticed that my wollemi pines don’t produce decent polar caps in mild winters.
    Here are some pictures of polar caps I have found

  3. Suzie Tall Says:

    Thank you for the links. I so wish I had taken a picture with big white balls on the top and on all the branches. Temperature this year has been down to -10C or thereabouts, so it might prompt something.

    All my seeds were very flat so it looks like not viable. I will try again with the next batch of cones if I get any.

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