RHS Garden Rosemoor, situated near Great Torrington in North Devon, has been chosen to be part of a global conservation project to protect the endangered Wollemia pine from Australia, one of a few very select sites in the UK. 

Wollemi pines have been dubbed the ‘dinosaur tree’ because fossil records show they were living 200 million years ago alongside the dinosaurs. The pine (Wollemia nobilis), was discovered by chance in 1994 in a wilderness area in the Wollemi National Park, northwest of Sydney. Fewer than 100 wild trees are left growing in the wild and their location is kept a secret to prevent the spread of pests and diseases. These trees narrowly escaped being destroyed by wildfires in 2019-2020 which burnt more than 10 million hectares of land in eastern Australia. As such, the species is now classified as critically endangered on the IUCN's red list, an important indicator of the world’s biodiversity which sets out the risks of extinction for plant and animal species.

Recent advances in genetic techniques have enabled Australian plant science and conservation experts to identify and breed genetically diverse Wollemi pines. For the first time, collections of these saplings are being made available to botanic gardens across the world. Locations have been chosen with a suitable climate, best suited for the trees to survive climate changes ahead. Together they will create a meta collection, a botanical collection shared by separate organisations but cared for collaboratively to research and conserve the species for the future. Growing the trees worldwide in this way preserves the widest range of genetic diversity found in the wild population and aims to safeguard Wollemi pines from becoming extinct.

More than 170 young Wollemi pine trees grown by Botanic Gardens of Sydney were shipped from Australia and then carefully looked after at Forestry England’s tree nursery at Bedgebury until they were delivered to their new homes in October. Now the young trees are safely out of quarantine, they have been planted on the woodland bank on the northern border of the RHS garden. 

See more from RHS Rosemoor here

A garden full of inspiration Set in a beautiful valley in the heart of North Devon between two National Parks, this 65 acre haven for biodiversity and wildlife has something for everyone. A feast for the senses Explore our famous ‘garden rooms’, each themed to celebrate the seasons in…