Araucaria columnaris
Common Name: New Caledonian pine 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Araucariaceae
Native Range: New Caledonia
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 180.00 to 200.00 feet
Spread: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

This tree may be grown outdoors in USDA Zones 10-11 in deep, moist, somewhat fertile, well-drained soils in full sun. Best located in areas sheltered from strong winds. In St. Louis, it may be grown indoors in tubs or containers where it prefers a sandy, peaty, well-drained soil mixture. Indoor plants grow best in bright sunny but somewhat cool rooms with some protection from direct afternoon sun which may bleach the foliage color. Consistent moisture is best, but with slightly reduced watering in winter. Avoid overwatering. Temperatures should not fall below 50 degrees F.

Noteworthy Characteristics

New Caledonian pine is native to New Caledonia where it was discovered by Captain Cook on his second voyage. It is also commonly called Cook pine. This tree has a narrow columnar form (hence the specific epithet) and will mature over time to 100-200' tall. Tree trunks are often distinctively curved near the base before correcting to an upright form. Brown scaly bark is rough and peels in strips. Branches are numerous, short, mostly horizontal and located in whorls around the trunk. Juvenile leaves are awl-shaped (to 1/2" long). Adult leaves are lanceolate-ovate to triangular (to 1/4" long) and overlapping. Female seed cones (to 4-5" long) are upright, scaly, egg-shaped and located in the upper branches. Male cones (to 2-3" long) are drooping, scaly, cylindrical and hang from the lower branches. Mature tree is basically very narrow with a spire-like crown. Young trees (those with juvenile foliage - typically under 25' tall) are almost indistinguishable from Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) which is native to Norfolk Island off the coast of Australia. With age, New Caledonian pine develops a much thinner and more columnar appearance than Norfolk Island pine which is pyramidal. New Caledonian pine is commonly planted throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Genus name comes from the Araucanian Indians of central Chile to whose territory Araucaria is native.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. When grown as a houseplant, watch for spider mites or scale. Root rot may occur in poorly-drained soils.

Garden Uses

Where winter hardy, this tree may be grown as a large specimen tree in the landscape. Good ornamental value. Excellent street tree. Where not winter hardy, it may be grown in containers that are brought inside in winter.