Shivaji museum gets a gift from Down Under — a rare pine

The city's biggest museum is set to have an addition to its list of attractions. The premises of Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum Friday received a Wollemi Pine — one of the oldest and rarest trees in the world. Premier of New South Wales Barry O'Farrell, who is on an official visit to India, presented state legislative assembly speaker Dilip Walse-Patil with a sapling of this pine, which was discovered only 10 years ago in a national park near Sydney.

There are less than 100 adult Wollemi Pines existing in the wild across the world today. It is classified 'critically endangered' on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List (2002), and is legally protected in Australia.

Health and Protocol Minister Suresh Shetty said he received a letter from the Australian Consulate-General's office in Mumbai saying O'Farrell would present the pine to Walse-Patil to be planted in the grounds of the Vidhan Bhavan. "As the number of public visitors to Vidhan Bhavan are limited, we have decided to plant it inside the museum compound," said Shetty.

The pine, termed as the ultimate survivor, can grow up to 40 metres high and survive temperatures ranging from -5 to 45°C. The Australian government, in its attempts at conserving the trees, has been urging individuals and organisations to grow Wollemi Pine.

The letter from the Consulate-General says the gift is intended to demonstrate the commitment of the NSW government in expanding ties with Maharashtra. It also says that the state flower of Maharashtra, the crepe-myrtle, grows in the gardens of Government House in Sydney.

O'Farrell is in the state as part of the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between the two governments a year ago. The MoU will focus on tourism management

stuti.shukla@expressindia.com

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