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Araucariaceae Henkel & W. Hochst., 1865 nom. cons.
the bunya family
The Araucariaceae are a very ancient family of coniferous trees. When the dinosaurs became extinct, so did the Araucariaceae in the northern hemisphere. The Araucaria, Agathis and Wollemia survived in some forested regions of South America and Australia. The name of the type genus Araucaria is derived from Arauco, a region in central Chile, which is also home to Araucaria araucana, the monkey-puzzle tree, so named because the prickly tangled branches would make it difficult for a monkey to climb. It has been suggested that the prickly needle-like nature of the leaves of the Araucariaceae was designed to prevent them from being eaten by enormous South American dinosaurs such as the Argentinosaurus, which weighed something like 100 tons.
Members of this family are typically very tall evergreen trees that can reach up to 60 m in height. The trunks are columnar, the branching usually horizontal and tiered, arising regularly in whorls of 3 to 7 branches, or alternating in widely separated pairs. Cones are produced for reproduction, and not flowers.
Agathis robusta - Queensland Kauri Pine
Araucaria cunninghamii - Hoop Pine
Araucaria excelsa (syn.) - Norfolk Island Pine
Araucaria heterophylla - Norfolk Island Pine
Photograph by Kuet Stueber, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Page last updated 31st December 2015