HEAVY fighting at Gallipoli during the First World War destroyed the original Lone Pine but it is corellas that are now threatening the tree’s Warrnambool descendant.
Warrnambool Botanic Gardens curator John Sheely said about 60 pine cones were collected this week from the Lone Pine in the gardens in a bid to provide further generations of the tree for Warrnambool and other places throughout Victoria.
Mr Sheely said the Lone Pine in the Warrnambool gardens was planted in 1934 from a seedling grown from a cone collected from the Lone Pine at Gallipoli by Sergeant Thomas Keith McDowell who fought in the ill-fated campaign.
Sergeant McDowell gave the cone to his aunt by marriage — Emma Gray, of Grassmere — who propagated four seedlings from it.
One of the seedlings was planted in the Warrnambool gardens with others going to Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance, the war memorial near The Sisters hall, west of Terang, and the Melbourne suburb of Wattle Park.
Mr Sheely said the Lone Pine in the Warrnambool gardens was about 18 metres high, 80 years old and subject to ongoing attacks on its cones by corellas.
He said much of any viable seed found in the cones would be sent to Legacy in Melbourne to propagate in partnership with Melbourne’s Burnley College that specialises in horticultural education.
The Warrnambool gardens would also keep some of any viable seed to propagate for seedlings to be planted in its “Pinetum” area that focuses on pine trees, Mr Sheely said.
The Pinetum area already has two trees propagated about three years ago from the gardens’ Lone Pine by a member of the garden’s Friends group.
Mr Sheely said the recent harvest of pine cones to collect more seed was a further effort to ensure the provenance of the Lone Pine’s descendants.
Mr Sheely said he expected any local seedlings grown from Warrnambool’s Lone Pine would be planted in the gardens next year to mark the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli. Friends of the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens president Pat Varley said the Lone Pine in the Warrnambool gardens was the healthiest of the four trees grown from the pine cone that Sergeant McDowell collected from the Lone Pine at Gallipoli.
Mrs Varley said the Lone Pine descendant that Mrs Gray gave to the Shrine of Remembrance had died but a seedling had been propagated from it.