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Tree once assumed to be extinct living at the Sacramento Zoo

Categories: Conservation, Horticulture, Visitor Services

You know that the Sacramento Zoo supports dozens of efforts to save species from extinction and to educate others about the fascinating animals that we share the planet with. What you may not know is that those efforts extend to more than just our furry, feathered, and scaly friends. The Sacramento Zoo is home to a wide variety of plants including one species of tree that were once thought to be extinct!

Nestled on the Zoo’s luscious grounds for visitors to discover is a Wollemi Pine and a Chilean Wine Palm.

Young Wollemi Pine
Young Wollemi Pine at the Sacramento Zoo

The Wollemi Pine (Wollemia noblis) was discovered in Australia in 1994 by David Noble, a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Officer and avid bushwalker. Prior to his discovery, the tree was only known by fossils dating back before the Jurassic Period. There are less than one hundred mature trees known in the wild. At the Sacramento Zoo, a Wollemi Pine can be found across from the White-handed Gibbons.

The Chilean Wine Palm (Jubaea chilensis) is listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

It is native to southwestern South America where it is endemic to a small area of central Chile. They are extremely slow-growing, and human consumption far exceeds the growth rate of replacement trees in their native habitat. The Zoo has multiple Chilean Wine Palms that can be found across from the African Lions.

Young Chilean Wine Palm
Young Chilean Wine Palm at the Sacramento Zoo

Also of note at the Sacramento Zoo are 25 species of bamboo, horsetail (Equisetum, considered a living fossil plant that has been around since the time of dinosaurs!), and three Valley Oaks that are classified as heritage trees. The Valley Oaks, estimated to be more than 300 years old, are currently under protection at the Sacramento Zoo.

Thanks to the Association of Zoological Horticulture’s Wendy Andrews Cultivation Grant the Sacramento Zoo will be able to install educational identification signs for the Chilean Wine Palm, Wollemi Pine, and Valley Oaks. These signs will also include information about why these trees are important and are part of the Sacramento Zoo’s conservation mission.

Next time you visit, take time to learn about the animals AND plants that call the Sacramento Zoo home.