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Araucaria bidwillii – Wikipedia

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Evolution and Distribution:
– Araucaria bidwillii is the only extant species in the Bunya section of the Araucaria genus.
– Fossils with similar cone morphology have been found in the UK and South America, indicating a widespread presence of the Bunya section in the Mesozoic era.
– The species is considered a living fossil.
– A. bidwillii was abundant in southern Queensland during British occupation, but small populations now exist in northeastern Queensland due to the drying out of Australia and seed dispersal challenges.
– Southeast Queensland populations are limited, except near Bunya Mountains.

Ecology and Cultural Significance:
– Various birds and animals eat bunya seeds, with sulphur-crested cockatoos known to disperse them.
– Extinct large animals may have been historical seed dispersers.
– Bunya pine has a unique cryptogeal seed germination process.
– The tree produces edible kernels that were a vital food source for Aboriginal Australians, holding cultural significance in Aboriginal traditions.
– Ownership of bunya trees was passed down through generations.

Description and Architecture:
– Araucaria bidwillii can grow up to 50m with a distinctive egg-shaped silhouette, small rigid triangular leaves, and spike-shaped male cones.
– Female cones can weigh up to 10kg and contain edible seeds, making them among the largest in conifer species.
– The structural model of A. bidwillii changes over time, with growth following different models initially and with age.
– Canopies at Bunya Mountains showcase distinctive features, and close-up views reveal unique characteristics of leaves, cones, and seeds.

Cultivation and Uses:
– Bunya nuts germinate slowly and can be consumed raw, cooked, or in paste form by Indigenous Australians.
– The nuts are stored in creek mud, eaten fermented, sold in markets, and experimented with in commercial farming.
– Bunya timber is valued for instruments and woodworking, while the nuts are used in diverse recipes and are considered nutritious.
– Cuttings can be successful from erect growing shoots, and bunyas are hardy once established, growing in various climates.

Impact, Cultural Relevance, and Conservation:
– Parrots play a role in seed dispersal for Araucaria trees, while feral deer management strategies may affect Bunya pine populations.
– The tree has led to lawsuits due to injuries caused by falling cones.
– Indigenous groups maintain cultural ties to Bunya Mountains, with various historical connections to the region.
– Conservation efforts focus on genetic diversity studies, maintaining ancient Bunya trees, and regional forest types and conservation strategies.

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