For many years the genus Araucaria has hold my interest and several journeys to the natural habitats in Chile, Australia, Argentina and New Caledonia have extended my knowledge of the genus. Field trips, even to remote locations, have opened the possibility to gain my own experiences. Especially my last three travels to New Caledonia, a Pacific island of botanical and geobotanical superlatives including endemic genera and species of gymnosperms, together with extensive pictorial material have let the idea ripen to compile an illustrated book of the genus Araucaria.
Most of the photos, more than 80%, have been made by B. Suprin and the author. At this point, I would like to express my gratitude to the other authors of illustrations for the permission to use their photos.
In the present work the phylogeny of conifers regarding the genus Araucaria will briefly be addressed and followed by a part about the geographic range of living Araucaria-species. A geological timetable and an overview of the continental drift of the prehistoric Gondwana-continent in geological times will complete the section.
With the help of a world map the fossil occurrences and the geographic range of living Araucaria-species will be illustrated.
Next, the comparative description of the Araucaria-species will be highlighted with the help of a previously unknown and unpublished photo selection, which hopefully might contribute to a better understanding of the genus. The characteristics of the genus and their grouping by sections are quoted from GOLTE (1993). The genera Agathis and Wollemia which belong to the family Araucariaceae will be outlined with text and some illustrations.
Thereafter, all 19 Araucaria-species of the world will be described in a small text, followed by a distribution map, a brief botanical description, a front image and several special photos. Each species will be accompanied by a photo of a sample of understory plants typical for the habitat. Next synonyms and native and, if present, foreign-language names will be mentioned. Because New Caledonia is francophone there are only universal terms like «Pin colonnaire» or “Pin de montagne” for all Araucaria-species. Terms in English are only known for Araucaria columnaris, German terms are artificial and neither useful nor correct. To avoid irritation these terms will not be used. The same is true for the Kanak-clan terms, because there are more than 10 names for only one species.
The species descriptions will be followed by some completing remarks about sowing, planting and breeding and a comparison of species regarding plants, seeds and timber features. Furthermore, several explorers and researchers will be presented who are acknowledged with Araucaria-naming.
Many more interesting aspects of palaeobotany, ecology, genetics, pathology, exploitation, species conservation and more are not the subject of this work. Reference will be made to respective specialised literature.
I would like to express my cordial thanks to all people who have contributed their share to the publication of this book; these are B. Suprin, Nouméa, New Caledonia; Dr. Golte, Bonn, Dr. Traiser, Freiburg und Dr. Seehann, Reinbek, all Germany.
I am particularly grateful to my daughter Christina for her layout work and to my wife Martina for proofreading.
I also thank the publishing house Kessel and the printing company Sieber for the pleasant and professional collaboration.
I would also like to express my sincere thanks to Dr. Michaela Deu, Bremen, for this translation in English and Dr. Benoit Sittler, Freiburg, for this translation in French.