It’s a common fact that just about every animal in Australia has some sort of deadly defense, but now even the trees are out to do harm. One tree in particular is taking aim at local residents of Warragul, Victoria with some heavy hitters – literally. The Bunya pine, a tree that has been growing in the southeastern territory of Victoria for over 120 years has produced whopping watermelon-sized pine cones. The 10 kilo pine cones, which weigh approximately 22 pounds, are now threatening passersby as they fall from nearly 20 meters high.
So why haven’t we heard about these green pineapple-looking tree bombs before? Apparently the pine cones take a while to get to their mammoth size – it takes over a decade before they’re big enough to fall. The offending Bunya pine tree, the only offender so far, hasn’t dropped pine cones on Smith Street for more than 15 years. The recent event of their descent has area locals looking perplexed.
Of course, if pine cones the size of small dogs were falling from trees in the United States – even in San Antonio where everything is huge – we’d be baffled as well.
It’s one thing to make minced meat out of a rodent in the outback if one of these cones came raining down, but this tree is located in a highly public area. This Bunya tree grows on the grounds of the very popular Courthouse Hotel and restaurant. Just one pine cone landing on a patron’s head can cause serious damage and lead to a potential lawsuit.
To prevent injury, barricades have been placed around the tree’s canopy to protect residents using the footpath near the tree. The owner of the restaurant has sought council with a professional arborist to determine the best way to preserve the tree without jeopardizing public safety. So far the best plan involves building a platform for arborists to reach the lofty pine and collect the pine cones. They hope this will facilitate the removal of the pine cones without invasive techniques such as tree trimming or tree topping.
Larger than expected pine cones don’t only occur in Australia though. The sugar pine trees of Texas also produce extra large pine cones. But these will most likely not cause a concussion.