Fossil Courtyard

Pitys withamii the largest of the fossilised “Craigleith Tree”

The largest of the fossilised 'Craigleith Trees', Pitys withamii.

The Garden's oldest plants are two fossilised trees of Pitys withamii, which lived 320 million years ago. One is over 10.5m long and is Scotland's largest fossil. They where uncovered between 1835 and 1865 at Craigleith, where the stone for the two palm houses was quarried.

Cone on a female Araucaria araucanaThe Fossil Lawn was constructed in 1991 to demonstrate the evolution of vegetation in context of its geological history. Planted around the fossil trees are 'living fossils' such as the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), dawn redwoods (Metasquoia glyptosproboides) and the maidenhair trees (Ginkgo biloba). Also present on this site are Chusan palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) whose ancestors once grew in Scotland.

Living fossil: Wollemia nobilis was discovered in 1999The most recently discovered 'living fossil' arrived at the Garden in December 2004. The Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) was long thought to be extinct and only known from fossil records dating back 200 million years. But in 1999, a stand of living trees was discovered by chance in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. The discovery of this 'lost forest' of trees, unchanged for millions of years, was likened to finding a dinosaur alive today. Successful propagation has provided trees to distribute around the world, including one on display in the Temperate Palm House.

Other garden features include....

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