A prehistoric Christmas treat > the Wollemi

It could be a prehistoric Christmas season for some Australians, with the Wollemi Pine thrust into the spotlight as the next big thing in Christmas trees.

“They are definitely ideal as a unique Christmas gift, and this is our first Christmas with the Wollemi Pine available so there has been a lot of interest in them” Anna Kalinowska from Wollemi Pine International said.

Living Planet in Riverstone is one of the few nurseries in the Hawkesbury region to stock the ancient plant since it first became available for sale to the public in April this year.”They make an ideal Christmas present” Maryanne Stewart from Living Planet said.

Growing up to 2-3 metres high, the Wollemi was discovered 10 years ago in Wollemi National Park. It has since become a favourite gift.

“I’ve got one at home that I’ve planted in a terracotta pot and put on my verandah” Ms Stewart said. “It’s best not to put them straight out in full sun. Put them on balconies or patios where they get the sun in the morning and the shade in the afternoon” she added.

When you purchase a Wollemi Pine you are presented with a certificate ensuring the authenticity of the plant, as well as an information booklet on how to care for your plant.

“A living plant is so much better than a bunch of flowers” Paul Maait from Living Planet said.

With less than 100 adult trees known to exist in the world, people can help bring the Wollemi back from extinction by caring for a plant.

“When you buy a Wollemi Pine a royalty goes back to fund conservation of the plant” Ms Kalinowska said, adding “They’re also easy to look after, they are very waterwise. You only have to water them once a week, and they are very versatile plants”.

The Wollemi makes a good indoor plant since it is evergreen and will not make a mess inside. Ms Stewart recommends buying them small and re-potting them as they grow.

“At a cost of $55 in a 140mm pot, even the smallest plants are quite leafy and substantial” Ms Stewart said. “You could use them as a decoration, and the bigger ones for Christmas trees”. For a larger plant in a 200 millimetre pot the cost is $95.

For a full list of participating stores, visit the Wollemipine website at > http://www.wollemipine.com