In my opinion, this is the trippiest and coolest tree on campus. It looks like it came right out of a Dr. Seuss book doesn’t it? This tree is a Bunya Pine, or Araucaria bidwillii, but it is a bit of a misnomer as the tree is not actually a pine. Take a look at the leaves. They alternate and are compound and waxy with an entire margin and a sharp spiny tip. (All pines have needles in clusters.) Is there anything on the waxy leaves? If you see specs, these are whitefly larvae (pictured on the left). So, yes, if you rubbed the leaves and have specs on your fingers–Congrats- you have found the larvae. The leaves contain juices that the whitefly larvae consume.
Most of the trees on campus have trunk bark in a vertical formation, but this tree has rough, horizontal (and sappy!) bark. You have probably noticed the extremely sharp cone (see photo on the right). This is the male cone. Female cones are produced every three years. These cones are some of the largest of conifers, growing around twelve inches long and weighing around eight pounds! UCSD Facillity Management actually has to put yellow caution tape around the tree when these babies are produced! The large cones contain edible nuts, which was actually an important food source for those indigenous of Queensland, Australian, who harvested the nuts every few years and buried them in mud.
Next time you wander by the new Student Servies Complex, take a look at this unusual tree.