Araucaria bidwillii (Molina) K. Koch
Bunya-bunya, bunya-bunya pine
The bunya pine, native to Queensland, Australia, is not found in the wild in North America. It is not actually a pine at all, though the mistake is a natural one, given its appearance and its cone-like nuts.
Identification: Trees are 98-148' (30-45 m) high, and can reach 500 years in age. If you are in the Bunya Mountains, or the Jimna area, or Mount Lewis (all in Australia), look for tall trees with rounded tops (younger trees are more pyramidal in shape). Bark is dark brown or black, with scales that are about ⅞" (2.5 cm) wide and 3" (7.5 cm) long. The trunk resembles that of an elephant. Younger trees have glossy, stiff, light green leaves, ⅞-1¾" (2.5-5 cm) long, with sharp points. Older trees have leaves that are darker, arrayed evenly about the small branches, ¼-1" (7-28 mm) long.
Edibility: Roasted and boiled, the nuts were important to Australian natives. Paste made by grinding the nuts could be eaten as is or cooked into a bread. Nuts stored in a running creek fermented, producing a delicacy. More recently, enthusiasts have created many interesting preparations of this “bushfood,” which tastes like a cross between chestnuts and potatoes.
Araucaria bidwillii on Wikipedia
Araucaria bidwillii on The Gymnosperm Database
Araucaria bidwillii on floridata.com
Araucaria bidwillii at Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants
Araucaria bidwillii on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Araucaria bidwillii at the University of Florida Environmental Horticulture site
Araucaria bidwillii description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.
Range: Zones 8b-11: