Wollemia nobilis: straight out of prehistoric times, directly into the Fern Glen of Forests of the World
In 1994, Australian rangers discovered a botanical sensation in a hidden ravine: nearly one hundred copies of Wollemia nobilis, which was believed to have been extinct at the time. The large number of fossils proves that the conifer was dispersed throughout the world 65 million years ago. It is very likely that this sensational discovery actually represents the last living members of this genus. It is unusual that all copies have an identical genetic makeup – that is, are clones. In order to protect the plants from disease, the location of the approximately 100 copies of the natural population is a closely guarded secret. An international program for the propagation and rearing of this interesting plant, set up in 1999, ensures its continued survival.
In April 2006, the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle became the first botanical garden in Italy to exhibit a specimen of the rare conifer. It is located in the Fern Glen, together with other living fossils such as Ginkgo biloba and Metasequoia glyptostroboides.
This acquisition was made possible through South Tyrol’s Sparkasse Foundation. Trauttmansdorff made an agreement with the Australian Government in order to explore the hardiness of the plant: the conifer spends winters outdoors, and will be replaced by the region if there is any frost damage.