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Araucaria heterophylla: Norfolk Island-Pine1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert, and Drew C. McLean 2


This large evergreen has a single upright trunk, tiered branching habit, and a narrow pyramidal or columnar shape. Eventually reaching a height of about 80 feet, the tree possesses a rapid growth rate. The tree would grow taller, but lightning frequently limits height growth in the eastern United States. The bright green, <2-inch-long, individual leaves on young trees are lanceolate and look somewhat like spruce or fir needles at first glance. Mature leaves are somewhat contorted on twisted branches and scale-like. Both leaf types appear on the tree at the same time. The trunk is often curved and swollen at the base and black. The large, spiny, 10- to 15-pound cones are rare in cultivation.

Figure 1. Full Form - Araucaria heterophylla: Norfolk Island-pine
Figure 1.  Full Form - Araucaria heterophylla: Norfolk Island-pine

General Information

Scientific name: Araucaria heterophylla

Pronunciation: air-ah-KAIR-ee-uh het-er-oh-FILL-uh

Common name(s): Norfolk Island-pine

Family: Araucariaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 10A through 11 (Figure 2)

Origin: native to Norfolk Island, Australia

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: not considered a problem species at this time, may be recommended (North, Central, South)

Uses: indoors; specimen

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range


Height: 60 to 80 feet

Spread: 12 to 20 feet

Crown uniformity: symmetrical

Crown shape: pyramidal, columnar

Crown density: open

Growth rate: fast

Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: spiral (Figure 3)

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: linear, needle-like (filiform)

Leaf venation: parallel

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen, needled evergreen

Leaf blade length: < 2 inches

Leaf color: bright green

Fall color: no color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Leaf - Araucaria heterophylla: Norfolk Island-pine
Figure 3.  Leaf - Araucaria heterophylla: Norfolk Island-pine


Flower color: unknown

Flower characteristics: not showy


Fruit shape: oval, cone

Fruit length: 5 inches

Fruit covering: dry or hard; spiny

Fruit color: green to brown

Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: branches don't droop; not showy; typically one trunk; no thorns

Bark: gray brown and smooth, becoming darker, rougher, and breaking into small, scaly plates with age

Pruning requirement: little required

Breakage: resistant

Current year twig color: green, brown

Current year twig thickness: medium

Wood specific gravity: unknown

Figure 4. Bark - Araucaria heterophylla: Norfolk Island-pine
Figure 4.  Bark - Araucaria heterophylla: Norfolk Island-pine
Credit: Gitta Hasing


Light requirement: full sun

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained

Drought tolerance: high

Aerosol salt tolerance: can form large surface roots

Winter interest: no

Outstanding tree: no

Ozone sensitivity: unknown

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown

Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Although they provide some shade, they are not suitable for patios or terraces because they are too large and large surface roots are common. In addition, columnar-formed trees generally cast limited shade due to the narrow crown. Many people forget how tall these trees grow. They often have an attractive pyramidal form (like a fir or spruce tree) when they are small, but they quickly grow too tall for most residential sites. They can live as a house plant for a long time if not overwatered.

Growing best in full sun locations, this tree thrives on a variety of soils and is moderately salt tolerant. Young plants should be watered well, especially during periods of drought. Be sure to prune out multiple trunks or leaders as they should be grown with one central leader.

Propagation is by seeds or cuttings of erect shoot tips only.




No diseases are of major concern. Sooty mold and leaf spot are minor problems.


Koeser, A. K., Hasing, G., Friedman, M. H., and Irving, R. B. 2015. Trees: North & Central Florida. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.


1. This document is ENH242, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, Gainesville, FL 32611; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC), Wimauma, FL 33598; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH242

Release Date:April 23, 2019

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Part of Southern Trees Fact Sheets

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    • Andrew Koeser