Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Norfolk Island Pine, Star Pine
Araucaria heterophylla

Family: Araucariaceae
Genus: Araucaria (air-ah-KAIR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: heterophylla (het-er-oh-FIL-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Araucaria excelsa

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

23 members have or want this plant for trade.

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over 40 ft. (12 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling
Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost
From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel
Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

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35 positives
12 neutrals
4 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Maroth On Apr 19, 2014, Maroth from Allentown, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

About two weeks ago I planted 26 Norfolk Island pine seeds in various media in my apartment. Keeping them moist and covered. When can I expect to see a sprout?

I am here in Hamilton, Bermuda and there are BIG Norfolk Island Pines here!

Negative daytonacam On Mar 6, 2014, daytonacam from QUEENS VILLAGE, NY wrote:

Do not plant these Monsters anywhere near your home.

I purchased a home 4 years ago and was advised to trim the 4 pronged Norfolk Island Pine.

All of the trees that eminate from the main plant were 60 feet high and were located 6 feet from my garage and 10 feet from my neighbors house

So $450.00 later when I had all four parts trimed down to a sensible 15 feet, they grew back ten more feet.
So when I see people say don't prune them they are wrong.
Once mature top them, top them once a year they will grow back..

Just don't plant them at all. The braches are so heavy that one of them weighs 15 to 20 pounds.

When a high branch falls it takes all the lower branches on it's desent to the ground.

When a branch breaks it emits a horrid sap that becomes impossible to remove from walkways and Patios

It houses squirrels and they love to nest in the upper branches.

Right now each of the parts has a large nest.

So $450 dollars later and plenty of back breaking work
I still have a four parted Beautiful looking massive Monster.

Positive 2013_2 On Oct 19, 2013, 2013_2 from Greenville, TX wrote:

If your Norfolk Island Pine has out grown its area, one can start a new smaller pine by AIR LAYERING.
I have great success with this propagation.
Google AIR LAYERING for a step-by-step way to get a beautiful small Norfolk Island Pine.
Good success.

Neutral debylutz On Sep 29, 2013, debylutz from San Diego, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Oh my gosh, I love this tree. But it grows way too big for most landscapes. It makes a great living Christmas tree, but once planted, it takes off. I hope one day a dwarf variety is developed.

Positive fldoggie On Aug 13, 2013, fldoggie from Pompano Beach, FL wrote:

We bought our home in Pompano Bch, Fl in 1989 when this
Norfolk Pine was only about 6' Tall.. Probably, It had been a Xmas tree.. It has grown to a majestic 40 or 50 foot height .. It was my late dad's favorite ... and then hurricane Wilma blew part of our roof through it .. shearing off many branches.. Very sad to see.. But happily, like a previous commenter wrote, most of the branches have filled in .. alas, it is not as perfect as it once was .. ***************** ****** We too are experiencing an (unbelievable seed explosion ) this year.. There have been thousands and thousands of seeds scattered about our entire yard .. front & back .. and it has been going on for weeks ?????? In 24 years, the tree has never unleashed this kind of havoc .. We have also been wondering what is up???? We wonder if this is part of some cycle ...????

Neutral lbwagner On Jul 18, 2013, lbwagner from West Palm Beach, FL wrote:

We live in coastal south Florida. During the rage of the 2004 & 2005 hurricanes, much of the middle of our 40+ foot tree was stripped from debris flying past at that altitude. The limbs have slowly grown back and now looks fine. It seems to bend in high winds and spiral around like a whip.
My comment is mostly due to the excessive* production of pods and seeds! Since the hurricanes, our tree is trying to reproduce something fierce! We have a blanket of seeds in our yard and all around the neighbor's yards from our tree, We had a morning squall from a passing tropical wave which caused horizontal rain and high winds. I saw our seeds blowing around 1000 feet away in the wind.
Has anyone else noticed a high production of seeds/pods from their trees?
Royal Palm Beach, FL

Positive babyaz2001 On Jun 21, 2013, babyaz2001 from Claycomo, MO wrote:

I lived in Lanai, HI when I was a kid in the late 80's and the Norfolk Island Pines are all over the island. They can reach about 200 feet sometimes a little more. When I was there we used to climb to the tops of the trees to collect the pine cones and the seeds as they were shipped all over the world to be planted. We used to fill 50 pound potato bags full and we would get around $100 per 50 pound bag and we would fill 3 or 4 bags full in 2 to 3 hours. To tell if a batch of seeds were good and ready to be planted we would break a seed open and if it was pink inside it was good if it was hollow the batch or cone was no good.

I'm curious to know if they still do that on the island or not.

Positive jacors On Nov 27, 2012, jacors from Sainte Lucie de Porto Vecchio
France wrote:

I've just received the newsletter and the plant of the week is Araucaria heterophylla. The pic which is included is not of A. heterophylla from Norfolk Island but A. columnaris from New Caledonia. I had to work for a scientific revue on Araucaria sp and I grow most of the species in my garden. There are great confusions on A. heterophylla and columnaris in USA. Most of the plants growing in California are A. heterophylla whereas those growing in Florida and Hawai'i are mainly A. columnaris but very often wrongly named as A. heterophylla and some people believe that they are hybrids of both!
Therefore, confusion is involved by the collected seed for nurseries and grossly I might say seed from Florida and Hawai'i are generally A. columnaris and seed from California A. heterophylla.
A last point, seedlings of both species are the same till they develop mature characters then branches of A. columnaris are much shorter and the pinnules form a more upright V in section than A. heterophylla.
If you feel this is interesting to publish this comment in the pages, feel free to do it!

Positive Melissa53 On Nov 21, 2012, Melissa53 from Brighton, MI wrote:

When we moved into our home in Michigan, the young couple who built the home had planted a Norfolk Island Pine in a protected, shaded area of the front beds. I felt badly for the little tree (it was nicely shaped and quite cute) because I knew it wasn't supposed to survive in our 5b area. Now, it's nine years later and the tree is NOT so little any more and it's thriving. It still is nicely shaped and has attractive "cones" every year. I doubt it will ever make over 10 feet tall, but it's pushing 7 feet now. I guess it's been cold-hardened and happy. I would never consider moving it.

Positive gsytch On Nov 19, 2012, gsytch from New Port Richey, FL wrote:

I live in coastal Tampa Bay, and these grow into huge tall trees here. They take our coldest winters with ease (23-26F) in the rare dip that low, and seem to adjust to our periodic droughts. Several in my yard are just beautiful, and stood up to tornadoes and hurricanes well (fingers crossed)! Rather messy at times as the bottom branches die off some, but have become a wonderful shade tree. I love them.

Positive Annalee802 On Nov 19, 2012, Annalee802 from Oxnard, CA wrote:

When we moved into our California home 33 years ago, there was a huge Norfolk Island Pine in our front yard. The previous owner had planted it 20 + years before. The beautiful old tree offers shade and protection and served as a playground for our children and grandkids. Even when the Santa Ana winds came, the tree held strong. We did lose the top once, but it quickly grew back. We just love it.

Neutral JennyWren102 On Nov 19, 2012, JennyWren102 from Mason, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

I grew up in zone 5b where my brother planted one of these in the yard. This would have been in the mid-late 1970's, perhaps before the confusion over species began. He'd gotten it as a house plant, but when it outgrew the house it went in the yard with plenty of sunshine and room to grow. It was there up until about 5 years ago. The house is no longer in the family, but I'd drive by once a year or so and was amazed that it was still there.

I know this plant and its relatives are not supposed to be cold hardy, so I don't know how to explain how it lived so long. It was the freakiest-looking, most Seussian tree in the neighborhood; not exactly pleasant to lay one's eyes on, either. I suspect it was taken down due to extreme weather damage. It looked very bendy--more like a rubbery weed than a tree. But that thing nearly got as tall as the peak of the second storey roof!

Positive marcaz On Sep 23, 2012, marcaz from Watertown, MA wrote:

My 5.5 year old Norfolk Island Pine is in my sunroom from mid October through the end of May. It goes out into my yard in June, and I feel like it breathes a sigh of relief once I set it outside for the summer season. I have repotted it twice and it has two additional small trees that have grown so it is like 3 trees now in the large container. The main tree is about 7 feet and the 2 smaller ones are about 3.5 feet each. I wish I could leave it outside in the winter but New England winters can be harsh and I have grown very fond of this tree as I purchased it for a tabletop Christmas tree the year my youngest grandson Freddy was born, so I want to keep it alive. The problem is that it is getting too big for my sunroom. Interestingly, the sunroom is not heated during the day when I am at work and the temp does go down almost to freezing and the tree seems just fine. So- my question: Can I cut the top of the tree off to make it fit better in my sunroom? Or will that harm the tree and send it into shock? Thanks!

Positive floramakros On Mar 7, 2012, floramakros from Davis, CA wrote:

Amazing 5-pointed new growth. This potentially massive tree has tiers of widely spaced branches like green wedding serving trays getting wider as you go down the trunk. One of the most elegant and beautiful trees you'll ever see, that's why it's a top favorite of mine. Most temperature sensitive of the Araucarias commonly seen in the U.S., it suffers if it gets too hot plus low humidity or too cold and in those regions should be grown indoors. High humidity with heat however is OK examples are Hawaii, Florida and Puerto Rico. If you visit Northern CA especially San Francisco you'll see many giant Norfolk Island pines in perfect condition because of the coastal fog that also supports the Coastal Redwoods. Wonderfully soft needles unlike its cousins the Monkey Puzzle which has stiff but touchable needles and the bunya-bunya which is covered with razor blades! I can't praise it enough, that's why I have 7 of them!

Positive garence On Aug 23, 2010, garence from Wykagyl, NY wrote:

My parents have a Norfolk Island Pine that they've had for something over 20 years. It has grown in a sun room all that time, never having any problems. It was re-potted twice. At this point it is over 9' tall and pressing up against the ceiling of the sun room. It's a beautiful looking plant (tree) and has been easy to care for. However, the extreme height of it is becoming a problem.

My folks are at a loss about what to do with it, seeing as pruning is not an option. They live in Westchester County NY, so it is too cold to put the NIP outside. Do people typically sell/give these away when they get too big, to people or businesses with the space for it?

Positive purplesun On Mar 13, 2010, purplesun from Krapets
Bulgaria (Zone 8a) wrote:

Norfolk Island Pines are easy to grow in a container. Just keep them cool and bright in the winter, so they don't lose their foliage. Otherwise a very undemanding tree.

Neutral gooley On Dec 14, 2009, gooley from Hawthorne, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Just saw one of these growing outdoors in Palatka, Florida -- though in a somewhat sheltered location -- so they are even hardier to cold than I had thought. My family owned one when I was a very young child in Illinois, I owned one as a teen, and they were popular houseplants where I grew up, with some very tall ones growing in one of the first enclosed shopping malls nearby (Lincoln Square in Urbana, Illinois). I have sentimental fondness for these, but they have some real drawbacks. As houseplants, they get spindly if given too little light and tend to shed most of their lower branches if given too much -- although they are nearly as tough as an aspidistra, and can live for decades of slow growth if you have a high enough ceiling. They look a tad creepy if you think of them as a type of pine or spruce: the branches seem to be plugged into sockets on the trunk, and a plant moved to better conditions can go from a sort of endearing wan droopiness to alien-looking, vigorous new growth. Planted outside in Florida, they invariably get damaged in hurricanes -- and can cause damage. They generally recover, but look ragged and strange afterwards. If you want to know when any place on Florida's Atlantic coast from Cape Canaveral south was last hit by a hurricane, look at one of these ubiquitous trees: high winds strip them of most branches, and the size of the replacements they've grown will tell you how long ago.

Positive stephenp On Nov 16, 2009, stephenp from Wirral, UK, Zone 9a
United Kingdom (Zone 9a) wrote:

A fantastic architectural pine which surprisingly grows outside in this part of coastal UK (I'll post a photo to prove it).

It is not my plant but is grown in the local botanic gardens on the peninsula, it suffers mild damage in the frost but grows back strong each year. The specimen is around 7-8 feet tall and is an unusual site, locals don't understand the significance of this plant though!

These is another NIP growing in Llandudno in Wales (also in the Liverpool Bay area), and the other one is growing in Devon.

There are at most 4 Norfolk Island Pines growing in the UK, as they are far too tender to grow in most places.

Neutral ali44 On Nov 1, 2009, ali44 from tehran
Iran wrote:

Hi All member,

I request araucaria seed.
every body that have this seed please say to me
thank you.

Neutral Lalani On Jul 5, 2009, Lalani from South Padre island, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I bought a potted NIP as a live Christmas tree in 2008. After the holidays, I kept it outside in the winter, in a sheltered corner of the patio. In early spring I planted it. I put large rocks on two sides of it to help shade the roots. It has survived the summer of 2009, in which temperatures orten reached 100 degrees. On dry days--and most days were dry-- I gave the NIP a deep drink of water (about a gallon) in the early mornings, and sometimes in the evening too. Our soil is very alkaline. I don't drink coffee, but I put by cans of ground coffee and occasional put a scoop at the base of the NIP to help acidify its soil. In Nov of 2009, the NIP was doing fine. During the 2009-2010 winter, I decided to "tough love" the NIP and see if it could survive without special protection from the cold. Alas, we had too many freezing nights and enough freezing days. The NIP couldn't make it. I now know that Norfolk Island Pines are best left as potted plants in our climates, and brought indoors during the winter.

Positive plantparent On Jul 27, 2008, plantparent from Sarasota, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

We bought one about three years ago for our Christmas tree. We have moved "Charles" outside but he is still in a pot which keeps him more contained than if he were planted in the ground. I've never had problems but know they are suseptable to mites. We bring him inside and decorate him every Christmas. I love their rich green color and ease of care.

Positive louparris On Jul 20, 2008, louparris from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I really had only one and it was an indoor plant, but I lived for a while in Venezuela and they grow very large there. More interestingly, one time when I was on the Big Island of Hawaii I bought a bowl made out of koa wood. The man who sold it to me also had a farm with Norfolk Island Pines. He made bowls of them. I was enchanted and gave one to each of my sons for Christmas. The way he does them, they become translucent and light shows through them and shows the markings. The guy's name was Scott Hare. '

Positive larkspurplus On Jul 15, 2008, larkspurplus from Larkspur, CA wrote:

I was on the island of Lanai, HI last year. These trees form a forest in and around Lanai City, population about 3,000.They also line both sides of the approaching road for a mile or more across a small valley, and are quite beautiful. Some the trees in town are of serious diameter, maybe two ft. or more.

Positive ldy_gardenermd On Jul 14, 2008, ldy_gardenermd from Highland, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have a NIP that I have had now for over 12 years. It is about 6' tall and is doing well growing inside. It has lost numerous levels of lower branches over the years as its height has increased but it continues to produce new growth. Usually it goes out in the spring/summer months but this year it has remained in our new all season room. I can't imagine anyone disliking this "tree" as they are lovely and easily cared for!

Negative bobewart On Jul 14, 2008, bobewart from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I had two about 120' tall. Lightning struck one and knocked about 30' off the top. It shattered when it hit the roof. It is very brittle and very dangerous in a hurricane. When I had them taken down, they stunk so bad that I got to meet a lot of new neighbors. The core on one was rotten.

I live in south Florida (the lightning capitol of the nation) on high ground (about 20' above sea level). So lightning and hurricanes make these trees a real danger.

Positive wreinha On Dec 3, 2007, wreinha from Macomb, IL wrote:

I am currently growing Two Araucaria heterophylla trees which in the wild can grow 200 ft in height. The person that I work for also grows Norfolk Island pine trees, one of which is 8 feet tall. It needs lots of humidity and warm to cool teperatures to thrive, I plan to feed mine Rhododendron food this spring. dogseadepression

Neutral Maryinbr On Aug 19, 2007, Maryinbr from Plaquemine, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I think they are pretty trees.

Negative cosmicsquid On Mar 19, 2007, cosmicsquid from Hollywood, FL wrote:

I do not recommend planting the Norfolk Island pine outdoors here in South Florida. They grow like weeds outdoors here and become giants in little time.
After the last hurricane the Norfolk Pine caused a lot of damage to buildings, power lines etc. because they grow over one hundred feet high and the ones that remained upright lost limbs and tops. Its been over a year and they all look like some weird tree from another planet.
They have been noted by homeowners that the Norfolk are good conductors of lightening because of the large amount of sap they produce in their large trunks.
I know of several people that wish they didnt have the Norfolk on their property but because of the trees size it is expensive to pay a certified person or company to remove. In the meantime the tree keeps growing larger even dividing into several trunks at the top making them more unstable and dangerous.
I would like to see the State of Florida restrict the Norfolk Island Pine from being planted outdoors in residential areas. I my opinion they are dangerous and not a good looking tree once damaged.

Positive plantladylin On Mar 17, 2007, plantladylin from South Daytona, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I had two of these trees at one time in containers as house plants. They didn't seem to like it inside, so I moved the container's out to the deck. Eventually they got too tall for the roof of the covered deck, so out into the yard went the trees, containers and all. Eventually, one went to my backyard neighbor who planted it in her garden ... still looks great! The other one sat in the plastic pot by the fence for years, eventually the plastic pot cracked and split and the tree took root and established itself right where it sat! I love the look of these trees.

Many years ago I would buy small ones at Christmas time, some I would decorate with little ornaments, some with little red bows, and some with small seashells .... and give them to co-workers for decorating their office cubicles!

Positive ekimi On Jan 23, 2007, ekimi from Santa Barbara, CA wrote:

There are quite a few of these growing in Santa Barbara, CA. My house has a terrific NIP in the front yard, more than 50' tall. I'm curious to know why they lean. The lower trunk seems fairly vertical, but the upper trunk leans to the south. Is this a heliotropic response?

Neutral 1cros3nails4gvn On Oct 13, 2006, 1cros3nails4gvn from Bluffton, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have seen people growing this outside here in the beaufort, s.c. area. none are really that big, though they seem to be large enough to be at least a few years out of the pot. some that are less protected than others have noticeable damage, but others that are more protected and in microclomates seem to be doing quite well for an area classified as 8b (actually most winters are like 9a or 9b. it rarely drops below twenty, even out in the open)

Positive junglebob On May 31, 2006, junglebob from Palm Bay, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I bought these at Xmas about 10years ago for 25cents..they are about 40ft tall...withstood our hurricanes though bent...this is first time for seed pods...they are high on the trees....i'm in Palm Bay Fl...I have read that the seed pods turn red ...and that they can cause irritation to skin..

Neutral DCUrbanGardener On May 18, 2006, DCUrbanGardener from Washington, DC (Zone 7a) wrote:

I was given a pot of NIP for Christmas two years ago, and it was about 4' tall. Since then, I haven't been able to really gauge its watering and light requirements. A lot of the lower branches get browned very easily, and I am not sure how quite to take care of it.

Neutral AZJeff On Mar 22, 2006, AZJeff from Sahuarita, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

I tried growing this tree as a houseplant and I did have some success with it. I can't remember what happened to it or what I did wrong, but it died.

While I was in Puerto Penasco,Mexico (also known as Rocky Point) I got to see several of these trees being full size growing here and there, near homes and businesses. They looked quite well. I'd say they were over 10 ft. tall or at least 10 ft. tall. They sure are a pretty tree in their form.

I'm not sure how they can grow so well there, as the rainfall is low throughout the year. The soil in the area is very sandy based from what I observed. That would benefit the plants, besides higher humidity, being next to the ocean and getting sea breezes. I'm sure the weather is milder also, since the city is next to the ocean,and not getting extremes in heat or cold. I thought I saw someone growing a Norfolk Island Pine outside in my area. It couldn't have been over 6 ft.tall and it looked sick. It may have been the hot desert sun getting to it.

When I observed this was several years ago,and I doubt the plant is still there. I may experiment to see if I can grow one outside. I may also try growing one in a pot as a patio plant. If I do try to grow one outside, I will let this forum know how my results are.

Positive AnaM149 On Sep 30, 2005, AnaM149 from Casselberry, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I never made the connection from those pine trees sold at supermarkets during the holidays to those great big trees in yards. I always used to look at them in yards and just remark how neat they were - symetrical, star shaped and such dark foliage. I had one as a Charlie Brown Christmas tree one year and then put it out in my yard. Last years hurricanes made it lean about 45 degrees but has grown straight up about half way up. It looks a little weird but it still is nice and healthy. I love them!

Positive Milhafre On Jun 4, 2005, Milhafre from Fayal, Azores
Portugal wrote:

There are very tall examples of Araucaria growing here in the Azores where we have hurricane force storms almost every winter. Although very wind resistant, if the pressure gets just too strong the whole tree does not fall but enough of the top breaks off to reduce the pressure. A few very tall specimens now have double or even triple tops.

Positive BingsBell On Mar 17, 2005, BingsBell from SC, MT (Zone 5a) wrote:

My NIP is a house plant here in Montana. It is about ten years old and started as a little fella. It is now about 6 feet tall. It grows in my sun room and is a beautiful focal point. It requires about 4-5 feet of room.

Neutral eddiag On Aug 21, 2004, eddiag from Corpus Christi, TX wrote:

These grow prolificly here in Corpus Christi, Texas. Some are probably 30-40 feet high. That is why I chose to plant one in my front yard. I have had a lot of lower limb loss. Have had to spray several times for spider mites. I love the look of this dark green tree against my white gravel lawn and white brick house. The verdict is still out on my success with this plant.

Positive TREEHUGR On Aug 20, 2004, TREEHUGR from Now in Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

A 200' pipe cleaner! Neat!

This is obviously a bit of a novelty to have in your yard. They get very tall and keep a perfect symetry usually. Some have two or more leaders which can be fun to look at. I know they used to use a really tall one as a community christmas tree when I would visit my family in west palm beach, fl.

Aside from that, I don't know how practical it is. They don't give you any shade and since these grow almost exclusively in areas vulnerable to hurricanes, you might think about how many of these would wipe out an entire block if it fell.

How cool would it be to see a forest of these?!

Positive deborahgrand On Aug 17, 2004, deborahgrand from Baton Rouge, LA wrote:

I've had 2 -- the first was almost 5' tall when it sucumbed to my neglect. The new one I bought about 4" tall last christmas and it's almost 1 1/2 feet now. I love these little guys -- they're so hardy -- and can remain managable for a long time if kept potted. I've got friends with 10' tall one that had an atrium area specifically designed so they could bring in as a live christmas tree.

Positive punaheledp On Jul 8, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

growing up my neighbor had a large one. there were few nicer sites than a crystal clear Hawaii "winter" morn seeing this tree against the back drop of sky and valley, stunning. I have been told the tree was originally brought to islands to use as a windbreak and they can be seen planted in rows along low ridges and lower areas. Don't know what altitude they can grow to but they are supposed to grow to height of 200'. when topped they will send up two new trunks(?) and it is common to see these split trees in peoples yds. can't imagine planting this in a small yd.... over time the spread at the base can become very large. Have had some in pots, but one day my dogs ate them (no adverse effects I could see). OK for Xmas tree if going for formal look, but not to my taste either. had a baby blue spruce for that for a few years til it went maki (dead).

Positive foodiesleuth On May 30, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

This tree grows quite succesfully all over the islands. Some people use them as windbreaks around their orchards. I think they are beautiful and majestic, but don't care for them as Christmas trees (though they are popular here as such)......I prefer a denser tree for the Holidays. We sometimes use the topped off section of a Portuguese Cedar, which also grows well here, when a friend tops her "little forest" near the Holidays.

Positive Nocturnerose On May 19, 2004, Nocturnerose from Antioch, CA wrote:

A great, fun Tree. I saw one at the San Francisco Zoo that was beautiful in structure. This tree had to be over 100 years old from the size of it. If I had my camera I would have taken photos, but unfortunately that wasn't the case.

Positive angelam On Mar 31, 2004, angelam from melbourne
Australia wrote:

In Australia this is THE coastal tree,almost every coastal town in the South East has them along their beachfront.It will take any amount of salt wind and will grow in virtually pure sand.
It may be temperature, these towns would mostly be zone 10, but the tree is often huge and80 years+.

Positive frogprof On Nov 28, 2003, frogprof wrote:

My dad grew [with pretty good success] LOTS of Noroflk Island Pines when we lived in Tennessee; he put them on the stair landing with a huge bay window. Now my sister has bought her husband one for Xmas and they've put it in their (Dallas) kitchen in a similar spot -- big window with lots of indirect sunlight. We shall see!

My dad insisted that every Norfolk Island Pine was "Harry Steinfeld" [or maybe Stinefeld or Seinfeld.] Seems to me that I recall some sort of baseball connection or something.

Positive ForrestGump On Sep 27, 2003, ForrestGump from Melbourne, FL wrote:

The Norfolk Island Pine is all over the cities of Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach. It grows extremely well here, and can be seen towering above all other trees as you cross the causeways to this barrier island of Florida.

Positive Petsitterbarb On Aug 17, 2003, Petsitterbarb from Claremore, OK wrote:

Being in Oklahoma, this is only grown as a houseplant here. I have one that I've had for many years that is looking abit "leggy", since I forgot to water it properly a few times, but it's still hanging in there. They do make great little Christmas trees and, with proper care and plenty of water, are such graceful and beautiful plants for many years. Our newer one is a great focal point in our den, and is doing great with filtered afternoon sunlight. Needless to say, I remember to water it regularly!

Negative IslandJim On Aug 16, 2003, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Personally think this tree is quite overwhelming and ugly when it grows up. It's okay as a novelty when it's small, but its two relatives--the bunya-bunya and the monkey puzzle tree--are much more interesting.

Positive broozersnooze On Aug 16, 2003, broozersnooze from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have seen these growing in Ft Myers, Florida. I live in Jacksonville & don't remember ever seeing any except in planters. I believe the winters are too cold for this tree. I had a miniature one that came in a tiny pot for Christmas. I had to keep changing the pot as the tree grew. Eventually it was too large & heavy for me to get it in the house so I had to leave it outside. I covered it as best I could but it was too big. One winter it just got too cold & the tree was damaged. It never was the same after that & eventually died. Was a beautiful tree.

Positive palmbob On Aug 15, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is not as common a tree as one is led to think, at least here in southern California where the greater majority of trees sold as this are actually Araucaria columnaris...both are sold as indoor plants occasionally, though hard to keep them happy as one. The tree that is sold as a small Christmas tree from the Norfolk Islands is nearly always actually Cook Pine, not a true Norfolk Island Pine as advertised. See below for the differences.

A LOT of confusion that will probably never be resolved as the nursery industry has adopted A columnaris as the Norfolk Island Pine and there is little that can be done to dissuade them now.

Both plants are extremely similar as seedlings which is where most of the confusion lies, as that is the size everyone purchases this tree. However, as it matures, one can start to see the differences (some obvious, others subtle).

First and foremost, Araucaria heterophyllas are MASSIVE trees, not the neat, tidy, Christmas trees most end up planting in their yards where they fit in almost any corner- those are all Araucaria columnaris. Araucaria heterophyllas have a spread of up to thirty feet in diameter! They need a LOT of room and do not fit easily in the average yard. Araucaria columnaris is maybe a third that width and makes a wonderful small yard conifer.

Secondly, Araucaria heterophylla is a much less densly foliated tree than A columnaris with an almost weird distance between all the branches, making it look fake, like someone designed it. In addition, many A heterophylla have a large space between where the leaves start and the trunk, making the center of the tree look empty and airy (not a common look in A columnaris, a much more densely foliated tree). A columnaris has much more closely spaced branches. Also, the top branches of A heterophylla seem almost too far apart, and there is often a naked spire pointing straight up into the sky you never see on top of a Cook Pine (Araucaria columnaris).

Also, A columnaris's tend to start their lives out growing at a bit of a slant, either eventually curving back to upright, or staying slanted (and sometimes falling over here in southern California). A heterophylla is invariably straight up and down as a pole. Eventually the true Norfolk Island Pine grows into a pretty enormous but sparse looking giant. A columnaris can get tall, too, but look more like columns (hence the name) rather than giant triangles. In humid tropical climates A columnaris can look a lot more triangular as their branches break off less easily.

Supposedly the bark of A heterophylla is not that peeling though I have seen it peel. A columnaris has a very papery layer over its trunk and it peels much more readily than A heterophylla, but you may need two side by side to really appreciate this difference.

Note that most of the photographs on this page are incorrect. Eventually, with constant urging, the improper photos will be moved to the correct plant, but if you read this far, look at the photos I have added and notice the difference between those trees and many of the smaller, more compact trees in the photos others have added. THEN you might begin to appreciate the difference in the two species. At one time, I also had a lot of incorrectly identified photos on this page, but thankfully someone pointed this entire confusion out to me, and now I have moved my photos over to Araucaria columnaris where they belong.

Also note that most references to this tree on line, even in plant websites that usually have reliable information often get this tree confused with A columnaris and often have photos of A columnaris instead of A heterophylla on their web pages. It is no wonder so many are confused. I have no idea how to help unravel this mess.

Note also that the trees growing on many of the Hawaiian islands are mostly Araucaria columnaris, not heterophylla (though there are some of those, too). On Hawaii, Araucaria columnaris grows much faster and is a less compact, larger tree than in California, making it look even more like the real Araucaria heterophylla. It even adopts a more triangular shape, though still narrower than Araucaria heterophylla tends to grow, also adding to the confusion. The dense stands of trees seen on the big island of Hawaii's eastern shore (near Hilo) are reportedly all Araucaria columnaris (or so I have been told), not Araucaria heterophylla as so many Hawaiians refer to them, as well as do most visitors.

Neutral Monocromatico On Jul 21, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

It grows well here in Rio de Janeiro, specially near the sea. Its a slow growing tree, though. Theres a 15 years old tree right there only 6-7m tall.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Chowchilla, California
Concord, California
El Macero, California
Fontana, California
Fountain Valley, California
Garden Grove, California
Merced, California
Orange, California
Reseda, California
San Diego, California (2 reports)
San Leandro, California
Santa Ana, California
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Monica, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Upland, California
Vallejo, California
Whittier, California
Bartow, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida (2 reports)
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Dunnellon, Florida
Jupiter, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lake Helen, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Panama City, Florida
Saint Cloud, Florida
Sanford, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Venice, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida (2 reports)
Statesboro, Georgia
Hilo, Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii
Honomu, Hawaii
Kailua, Hawaii
Kapaa, Hawaii
Mililani, Hawaii
Macomb, Illinois
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Kenner, Louisiana
Marrero, Louisiana
Metairie, Louisiana
Richmond, Maine
Highland, Maryland
Brighton, Michigan
New York City, New York
Wykagyl, New York
Raleigh, North Carolina
Cleveland, Ohio
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Bluffton, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Baytown, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas (2 reports)
Deer Park, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Greenville, Texas
Harlingen, Texas
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
Hutto, Texas
Kerrville, Texas
Mcallen, Texas
Richardson, Texas
Woodway, Texas

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