One of the world’s oldest and rarest trees, the Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) has begun to produce male cones at the Gardens (right). Only discovered in 1994 in Australia this extraordinary tree has a fossil record stretching back 90 million years.

A member of the Monkey Puzzle family, this tree caused a great stir in botanical circles when it was discovered in 1994 growing in a gorge within the Wollemi National Park in the Blue Mountains, just 200km west of Sydney in Australia. The excitement was due to the fact that it matches fossils dated to 90 million years ago, and was considered to have been long extinct.

The Wild population comprises less than 100 mature individuals, of which the largest is 40m tall with a trunk 1.2m across. The trees went on sale in May 2007, and royalties from sales are used to support conservation of the Wollemi Pine and other rare and endangered plant species in the National Park.

When in its resting phase, the terminal bud is covered by an astonishing layer of resin, and has the appearance of a great white sphere at the tree apex (left).