Gymnosperms (Seed Producing Plants: Conifers, Cycads, Ginkgo) •

Araucaria laubenfelsii

(Araucaria laubenfelsii)



Araucaria laubenfelsii (De Laubenfels' Araucaria) is a species of conifer in the family Araucariaceae. It is found only on Grande Terre, the main island of New Caledonia, mainly on the southern mountains Mont Mou, Mont des Sources, Mont Dzumac and Mont Dou, though smaller populations also exist on Mont Kaala and Mont Canala in the north. It is one of the larger of New Caledonia's native araucaria species, sometimes reaching up to 50 meters in height in emergent rainforest specimens, and potentially living for as long as 500 years or more. As with other New Caledonian Araucaria species, Araucaria laubenfelsii is threatened by habitat loss, though southern populations at least are considered to be healthy and it is not currently considered vulnerable or endangered. A population genetic study suggested that A. laubenfelsii is doubtfully distinct from the more widespread. Araucaria are mainly large trees with a massive erect stem, reaching a height of 5–80 metres (16–262 ft). The horizontal, spreading branches grow in whorls and are covered with leathery or needle-like leaves. In some species, the leaves are narrow, awl-shaped and lanceolate, barely overlapping each other; in others they are broad and flat, and overlap broadly. The trees are mostly dioecious, with male and female cones found on separate trees, though occasional individuals are monoecious or change sex with time. The female cones, usually high on the top of the tree, are globose, and vary in size among species from 7 to 25 centimetres (2.8 to 9.8 in) diameter. They contain 80–200 large edible seeds, similar to pine nuts, though larger. The male cones are smaller, 4–10 cm (1.6–3.9 in) long, and narrow to broad cylindrical, 1.5–5.0 cm (0.6–2.0 in) broad. The genus is familiar to many people as the genus of the distinctive Chilean pine or monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana). The genus is named after the Spanish exonym Araucano ("from Arauco") applied to the Mapuche of south-central Chile and south-west Argentina, whose territory incorporates natural stands of this genus. The Mapuche people call it pehuén, and consider it sacred. Some Mapuche living in the Andes name themselves Pehuenche ("people of the pehuén") as they traditionally harvested the seeds extensively for food. No distinct vernacular name exists for the genus. Many are called "pine", although they are only distantly related to true pines, in the genus Pinus.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Pinopsida
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