Norfolk Island Pine

c.The Graceful Custom, 2016 (Wright, 1937)

‘Distinct in habit and noble in appearance’

The Araucaria excelsa, perhaps better known as Araucaria heterophylla and the Norfolk Island Pine, is a forgotten house plant.

Walter Wright wrote this love letter for the ‘Lofty’ or ‘Excelling Monkey Puzzle’ in 1937:

‘Araucaria excelsa is one of the most desirable of room plants.  The Aspidistra is certainly preferable for a more or less draughty hall or passage, but the Araucaria should be chosen for the dining-room, living-room, lounge, or drawing-room.  

‘It is distinct in habit and noble in appearance.  The foliage is borne in circular, evenly spaced tiers, and is of a rich, dark-green hue.  The development of fresh tiers year by year provides considerable interest to the grower.  There will be no flowers, nor are any needed.’

Under the heading ‘The Flat Beautiful’, it was a top tip from Walter for smaller modern flats and tenements where palms and ferns were less suited.

We know all about the Aspidistra’s popularity, right up until the 1930s, but the Araucaria was a serious competitor in the early part of the 20th century when it came to foliage plants for the home.