Really, is there any coastal town that escaped the influx of the Norfolk Island Pine? You can just about navigate your way to the next beachside coffee shop by following the beacons of Norfolks poking from the landscape.
As the name suggests, Norfolk Island Pines are endemic to Norfolk Island. They’re not naturally found on the mainland, but have been planted in great numbers up and down the east coast of Australia.
It’s hard to blame anyone for planting the Norfolks, they are stately looking trees and survive well in salty, sandy environments. It was for these qualities that NSW government Botanist Joseph Maiden recommended the Norfolk Island Pine as ‘the main timber tree for NSW coastal areas’ back in the early 1900s.
From a Landcare perspective, the main problem we see with the Norfolk is that not much else will grow underneath it. This is particularly concerning on the dunes. Maintaining healthy and diverse vegetation on the dunes is important, this is what gives our dunes stability and resilience.
In hindsight, a local alternative that could have been planted perhaps around the Point and in the higher parts of town is the Hoop Pine. A similar stately looking tree, but locally native. On the dunes however we’d rather have seen the natural vegetation of Banksias, Wattles and Tuckeroos embraced.
So this then raises the question, what should be the fate of the Norfolk Island Pines in our town? Should they continue to have a place here? Do they need to be replaced with local natives? Or should they be left alone? (After all the sea eagles like to perch on them) Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in between, and perhaps it’s a discussion that needs to be had in the not too distant future.
Did you know?
• Both Hoop Pines and Norfolk Island Pines are members of the Araucaria genus, which also includes Bunya Pines, and are special in the sense that their close relations have been around since the age of the dinosaurs, between 200 and 65 million years ago.
• A good way to tell the difference between a Hoop Pine and Norfolk Island Pine is by observing the way they hold their leaves. A Norfolk spreads its leaves along its branches and holds them up to the sky, where a Hoop Pines holds its leaves in the shape of closed fists at the end of its branches.
• Another Araucaria species, the Cook Pine also resides in Lennox. Easily misidentified as a Norfolk Island Pine, a Cook Pine often has a lean to it and denser foliage.
Landcare dates for August
(Times are 8:30am to 10:30am)
Wed 2nd Seven Mile Dunes – north of surf club
Wed 9th Boulder Beach – Coast Rd car park
Wed 16th Seven Mile Dunes – opposite Williamsburg
Wed 23rd Boulder Beach – Coast Rd car park
Wed 30th Ross Lane Reserve – Fig Tree Hill Drive car park