Magazine article Sunset

Don't Sit under the Bunya-Bunya Tree

Magazine article Sunset

Don't Sit under the Bunya-Bunya Tree

Article excerpt

Don't sit under the bunya-bunya tree

If Isaac Newton had been struck on the head by a bunya-bunya cone instead of a mere apple, the theory of universal gravitation might have died at birth.

Weighing 10 pounds or more, the cones are borne high up in the tree, a shapely evergreen of moderately rapid growth to an eventual 80 feet. When ripe, usually in September or October, these enormous seed clusters fall with a crash, sometimes breaking small branches as they descend.

Bunya-bunya (Araucaria bidwillii) is less formal than its relative the Norfolk Island pine (A. heterophylla) and shapelier than the prickly monkey puzzle (A. araucana). Resembling flattened needles, its glossy, deep green leaves grow to 2 inches long. A well-grown bunya-bunya stands as a noble landscape ornament.

But it also has disadvantages that limit its use to large properties or rural areas. Consider its breadth and the depth of its shade: sweeping branches brush the ground and cast deep shade more than 20 feet out from the trunk.

The cones may also give you pause. It would be foolhardy to site a bunya-bunya over a path or driveway, or to place a table or bench underneath it.

In bunya-bunyas' defense, not all will bear cones because not all have both male and female flowers. …

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