Scientific Name: Araucaria columnaris
Synonyms: Araucaria cookii, Araucaria excelsa
Common Names: Cook Pine, New Caledonia Pine, Cook Araucaria, Columnar Araucaria
Duration: Perennial, Evergreen
Growth Habit: Tree
Hawaii Native Status: Introduced. This naturalized landscaping tree, lumber tree, and houseplant is native to New Caledonia.
Flower Color: Non-flowering
Height: Up to almost 200 feet (60 m) tall, but usually much less
Description: The relatively short, mostly horizontal branches are in whorls around the slender, upright to slightly leaning trunk. The branches are lined with cord-like, horizontal branchlets. The branchlets are covered with small, green, incurved, point-tipped, spirally arranged, overlapping leaves. The young leaves are needle-like, while the broader adult leaves are triangular and scale-like. The female seed cones are scaly, egg-shaped, and up to 6 inches (15 cm) long. The smaller, more numerous male pollen cones are at the tips of the branchlets and are scaly, foxtail-shaped, and 2 inches (5 cm) long. The bark peels off in papery strips and is rough, gray, and resinous. The trees have a slender, spire-like crown and look like unusually tall, thin Christmas trees.
Cook Pine is the most common and widespread Araucaria species in Hawaii. These trees are commonly cultivated and have become naturalized in some areas as well.
Although this species is usually incorrectly labeled as Norfolk Island Pine when sold as a houseplant, actual Norfolk Island Pines (Araucaria heterophylla) have longer, more widely spaced branches, giving the trees a much broader crown and sparser appearance. Cook Pine trees are much thinner, narrower, denser, and more columnar in appearance.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Coniferophyta – Conifers
Family: Araucariaceae – Araucaria family
Genus: Araucaria Juss. – araucaria
Species: Araucaria columnaris (G. Forst.) Hook. – New Caledonia pine