Fossil Information Sheet F009
Araucaria are an ancient species of tree that still exist today which have a massive erect stem reaching heights of between 30 and 80 metres.
The genus is familiar to many people as it includes the distinctive Chilean pine or "monkey-puzzle tree" (Araucaria Araucana).
The horizontal, spreading branches grow in whorls and are covered with leathery or needle-like leaves.
These characteristic spikey trunks would presumably make them difficult for monkeys to climb!
There are currently about nineteen living species in the genus, with a highly disjunct (separated) distribution, in New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, eastern Australia, New Guinea, Chile and Southern Brazil.
Many if not all current populations are species occurring in circumstances different from those in which they originated or were relictual.
Their fossil record dates to the time of the dinosaurs and shows that the genus also used to inhabit the northern hemisphere until the end of the Cretaceous period.
The best preserved petrified araucarian forest is in Cerro Cuadrado, Patagonia Argentina.
My stock includes the most wonderful fossilised pine cones from Patagonia, Argentina, which when split and polished give the most amazing detail.
These cones have been preserved so well, due to the ancient forest having been buried in volcanic ash, with minerals seeping into the cones over millions of years.
These fossilised pine cones are generally from the middle Jurassic period (approx. 160 to 165 million years old).
They are increasingly difficult to source as the export of them has recently been prohibited.