March 20
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Plant Species of the genus Agathis

Information about this genus
Name: Agathis
Cultivation: CULTIVATION: Agathis grow readily in the wet tropics and in frost-free temperate climates. The New Zealand kauri is probably the only one that can tolerate several degrees of frost, though the Australian species can survive light frosts if grown in a protected spot. They prefer deep soil with reliable subsoil moisture and are known to reach very large sizes on deep coastal sands. Height growth may be quite fast, but a large trunk diameter takes many decades to achieve. Propagation is only practicable from seed, gathered as soon as it falls and sown immediately.
Description: Few conifers grow into quite such massive trees as do many of the 13 species of Agathis, or kauri. The genus is of great evolutionary interest, representing a major element in the temperate rainforests that covered much of the southern supercontinent of Gondwana in the Cretaceous period (around 120 million years ago) but which had shrunk to small remnants by the mid-Tertiary period (30 million years ago). This history is shared by its close relatives Araucaria and the recently discovered Wollemia, the 3 genera forming the unique conifer family Araucariaceae. Agathis has an interesting distribution, with species scattered through an arc stretching from Sumatra in the northwest to New Zealand and Fiji in the southeast. New Zealand has a lone native species, there are 5 species native to New Caledonia, and northeastern Australia has 3 species; the others occur mainly in New Guinea and the Malay Archipelago. ?Kauri? is Polynesian; ?kaori? is used in some Melanesian islands. Young kauri trees grow vigorously skyward with a straight smooth trunk, but with age develop massive ascending limbs fairly high in the crown. The bark peels off in rounded scales of different size, shape and color in different species, producing some distinctive patterns. Leaves are broad and leathery with no midrib, arranged in almost opposite pairs. The cones are more or less globular with tightly packed scales, their junctions tracing out criss-crossing spirals?a pattern that inspired the genus name, which is the Greek word for a ball of twine. At maturity the cones shatter into disc-like pieces, releasing thin-winged seeds which twirl gently groundward.

Specie Vernacular Zone
Agathis australis 9-10
Agathis macrophylla 10-12
Agathis philippinensis 11?12
Agathis robusta 9-12

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