Freitag, 17. Januar 2014

Plant of the Day (January 17th, 2013) - Lagarostrobos franklinii (Hook. f.) Quinn.

Again, we return to the fascinating world of the Podocarpaceae. This time, I will show you Lagarostrobos franklinii (Hook f.) Quinn. In English, the species is known as “Huon pine” or “Macquarie pine”. Because the species isn't well known in Germany (and is also not a ornamental plant), there is no German name for this species. However, the English name “Huon Pine” (or “Huon Kiefer”) is also used.

L. franklinii is the only species of the Genus Lagarostobos (a Monophyllum). Earlier, the species belonged to the Genus Dacrydium.

1) Description

L. franklinii is a large, evergreen tree, which can reach average heights between 10 and 20 meters (32.8 to 65.6 inches). However, some individual trees can also reach a maximum height of nearly 30 meters (98.4 inches). It grows upright in a pyramidal shape with long, slender branches. Despite the stately heights, L. franklinii isn't a fast growing species and grows only 1 mm per year. On the other site, the species is one of the longest-living trees in the world. There is a stock of off-shoots (found at Mt. Read in Tasmania), whose Genom is about 10.000 years old, while the oldest, still vital tree of this stock is about 2.000 years old. The Bark has a distinctive, gray color.

 L. franklinii - habitus

As I mentioned it before, the branches of L. franklinii are long and slender. Along them, the leaves are arranged in a spiral leaf-pattern. They are very small (only about 1 millimeter long), scale-like shaped and closely pressed at the trunk but they are also strong keeled. All in all, the foliage reminds at a Cypress (Cupressus agg.). However, the leaves of L. franklinii also have white stripes of stomata on their back, what is a good difference between these two genera.

 L. franklinii  - the greyish bark

L. franklinii is dioecious, so we have male and female cones on different plants. In both cases, the cones are located at the end of the twigs. These cones are tiny and consists of 4 to 8 scales (male and female cones). After successful pollination, the female cones become small, globular seeds, which are surrounded by a fleshy mantle (Arillus). Vegetative propagation per off-shoots is also possible.

2) Distribution & Ecology

The tree is endemic to the Island of Tasmania, South of Australia. It grows in the riparian forests of the island and can be found along rivers, streams and creeks in the southern and western region of Tasmania. It uses the water for the distribution of the seeds and grows from sea-level to an altitude of 600 meters.

 L. franklinii- foliage; some cones are also visible
(red circles)

Over-exploitation and extensive logging (the wood is high quality because of its golden yellow color) had threatened the species and forced it into a serious bottleneck. However, the species is recovering, but because of the slow growth, adult trees are still rare. As a result, L. franklinii is protected by law.

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