This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Dioecious or sub-dioecious evergreen trees with usually imbricated persistent flat sessile scale-like leaves. Male cones large, cylindrical, terminal. Female cones very large, globular, terminal, with dense ligneous deciduous scales, each bearing a solitary seed. A genus of few species found in South America and Australasia. The generic name is from Araucanos, the name of a tribe of people in Chili whose principal article of diet is furnished by the large nuts of A. imbricata.
1. A. imbricata. Chili Pine. - This is a most majestic tree, from 100 to 150 feet high, of pyramidal or conical outline. Branches rigid, horizontal or slightly depressed, arranged in symmetrical whorls, and densely clothed with large flat sessile sharp-pointed glossy green leaves, which perish only with the tree. Cones from 6 to 9 inches broad and long. Seeds oblong or cuneate, 1 to 2 inches long, scarcely winged. This tree is so distinct in habit and foliage as to preclude the possibility of its being confounded with any other hardy species in this country. A. Brazi-liana and A. Bidwillii are allied tender species. The former is from South America, and will just exist in one or two localities in England. The other is an Australian tree. The Chili Pine is quite hardy only on well drained soils. It was introduced in 1796 by Men-zies, and there are now many magnificent large specimens in various parts of this country. Of the original specimens that at Dropmore is the finest and largest, not a branch being wanted to complete its symmetry.
There is a group of Australasian species differing in their smaller narrower foliage, and more flexible branches. A. excelsa, the Norfolk Island Pine (fig. 219), is one of the handsomest, but though too tender for the open air in this country, it may frequently be seen in conservatories or out of doors in Summer. In its native country it often exceeds 200 feet in height.
Fig. 219. Araucaria excelsa.