Araucaria cunninghamii (ARAUCARIACEAE); Hoop pine

Image: Form
Image: Canopy Emergents
Image: Sap exudate
Image: Foliage
Image: Bark
Image: Fruit
Image: Seed

Image: FormBack to top

Araucaria cunninghamii form
Araucaria cunninghamii - form - a planted tree in Red Hill - PHOTO: Robert Whyte
Large tree to 50m tall from Macleay River, NSW to Nth QLD and New Guinea in most types of rainforest. Usually a single trunk to the tip of the tree. Often seen as an emergent in dry rainforest, also as a remnant in cleared or semi-cleared farms and scrubs.

Flowers are spikes (male) and rounded scaly cones (female) from November-February

Widely planted throughout the world, though only suitable for larger gardens due to its ultimate size and prickly foliage.

Araucaria from “Auracanos” the name of the Chilean tribe in whose territory the Monkey Puzzle Pine, Araucaria araucana, was first discovered; cunninghamii after Cunningham, Allan (1791 - 1839).

Image: Canopy EmergentsBack to top

Araucaria cunninghamii trees emerging from rainforest canopy - Bruce Noble  2002
Araucaria cunninghamii trees emerging from rainforest canopy - Bruce Noble © 2002
It is a hardy though slow growing plant. Will grow faster when its roots find moisture, fertiliser, and when competition is removed. Like the Bunya Pine, its favoured natural habitat is mist forest.

Historically this was a very important timber tree and most natural stands have been cut out. Thousands of hectares of Southern Queensland and Northern NSW rainforest have been replaced by Hoop Pine plantations. Brisbane's houses were invariably built with Hoop. The remnant patches of the Araucaceae, Hoop, Bunya, Kauri and Norfolk Island pines were once part of a huge primitive conifer forest covering Eastern Australia.

Image: Sap exudateBack to top

Araucaria cunninghamii sap
Araucaria cunninghamii - sap - PHOTO: Robert Whyte
The sap from the trunk was used by Aborigines as a cement after warming it up with their fingers. Common names include Hoop/ Moreton Bay/ colonial/ Richmond River/ Dorrigo/ Queensland/ Brisbane pine, cumburtu, kum’barchu, coorong, coonam, arakaria, gunami, warrall, Australian araucaria.

Image: FoliageBack to top

Araucaria cunninghamii foliage
Araucaria cunninghamii - foliage - PHOTO: Robert Whyte
Leaves are simple, alternate, dark green narrow curved to 20mm long and clustered along branchlets. Juvenile Leaves are longer and straighter.

Leaves curved, keeled, +/- erect, mostly 0.5-1 cm long, loosely imbricate; juvenile leaves needle-like, flattened, mostly 1-2 cm long, +/- at right angles to the branches. (PlantNet)

Image: BarkBack to top

Araucaria cunninghamii bark
Araucaria cunninghamii bark - PHOTO: Robert Whyte
The wood of the fallen tree disintegrates more quickly than the tough, banded bark, leaving "hoops" hence the common name.

Image: FruitBack to top

Araucaria cunninghamii foliage
Araucaria cunninghamii fruit - PHOTO: Robert Whyte
Fruit is a brown cone of winged seeds which disintegrates when ripe from December-February

Male cones cylindrical, to 5 cm long, terminal, solitary. Female cones ovoid, ca 10 cm long on long peduncles, the cone scales samara-like, thinly winged, indehiscent, the seed retained on the scale at shedding; cones green, turning brown at maturity, seeds shed in summer. (PlantNet)

Image: Seed

Araucaria cunninghamii seeds - Paul Donatiu © 2002
Propagation is erratic from the woody winged seed, even when fresh. The seed is food for cockatoos. Seedlings come up in areas where seed falls around large plants, if the ground is accessible and the conditions favourable.