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This family consists of some 38 species of trees in 2 genera — Araucaria Juss. and Agathis Salisb. They are distributed over the Southern Hemisphere but are not native to Africa.

Several Araucaria species yield useful timber, whilst Agathis species are noted for the resins that may be obtained from them.

Araucaria araucana K.Koch, the monkey puzzle tree, and Araucaria heterophylla Franco, the Norfolk Island Pine, are commonly seen in cultivation.

The timber from certain Araucaria species has caused dermatitis as has the resin from Agathis species. Some Araucaria species are capable of inflicting mechanical injury because of their armament of sharply pointed leaves.

Agathis Salisb.
[syn. Dammara Lam.]

The 20 species are natives of the region extending from Indochina and western Malaysia to New Zealand.

Several species furnish copal and dammar resins from which varnishes may be prepared (Usher 1974). Copals may also be obtained from a variety of other plants, including species of Bursera Jacq. and Canarium L. in the family Burseraceae, and Copaifera L., Hymenaea L., and Trachylobium Hayne in the family Leguminosae. Dammars are also produced by Canarium species (fam. Burseraceae) and Hopea Roxb. and Shorea Roxb. species (fam. Dipterocarpaceae).

Contact sensitivity to copal is noted under Trachylobium (fam. Leguminosae). Dammar used in adhesive plaster has also caused dermatitis (Prosser White 1934).

Araucaria angustifolia Kuntze
[syn. Araucaria brasiliana A.Rich.]
Parana Pine, Perara Pine, Brazilian Pine

This species yields an attractive timber which does not withstand weathering.

Klauder & Gross (1951) note that this species may cause dermatitis. Woods & Calnan (1976) describe a carpenter who showed positive patch test reactions to this wood, as well as to ramin (Gonystylus Teijsm. & Binnend. species, fam. Thymelaeaceae), teak (Tectona grandis L.f., fam. Labiatae), epoxy resin, and wood and coal tars.

Araucaria araucana K.Koch
[syn. Araucaria imbricata Pavar., Pinus araucana Molina]
Chile Pine, Monkey Puzzle Tree, Pehuén

This species may cause unpleasant injuries to those foolish enough to climb it. The tree is armed with rigid sharply pointed leaves.

Araucaria bidwillii Hook.
Bunya Bunya Pine

The leaves have sharp points. The nuts are said to have caused asthma (Cleland 1943).

Araucaria cunninghamii Mudie var. cunninghamii
[syns Araucaria glauca Antoine, Eutassa cunninghamii Sweet]
Dorrigo Pine, Moreton Bay Pine, Hoop Pine, Queensland Pine, Richmond River Pine

This tree has needle-like leaves, some with sharp bristle-like points (Corner 1952). The timber is listed as having caused dermatitis (Anon 1926).

Araucaria heterophylla Franco
[syns Araucaria excelsa R.Br., Eutassa heterophylla Salisb.]
House Pine, Norfolk Island Pine

[Information available but not yet included in database]


  • Anon (1926) Bulletin of the Division of Industrial Hygiene, Commonwealth Dept. of Health, Melbourne (4).
  • Cleland JB (1943) Plants, including fungi, poisonous or otherwise injurious to man in Australia. IV. Medical Journal of Australia ii: 161.
  • Corner EJH (1952) Wayside Trees of Malaya, 2nd edn, Vol. 1. Singapore: V.C.G. Gatrell, Government Printer [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Klauder JV and Gross BA (1951) Actual causes of certain occupational dermatoses. III. A further study with special reference to effect of alkali on the skin, effect of soap on pH of skin, modern cutaneous detergents. AMA Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology 63: 1.
  • Prosser White R (1934) The Dermatergoses or Occupational Affections of the Skin, 4th edn. London: HK Lewis [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Usher G (1974) A Dictionary of Plants used by Man. London: Constable [WorldCat] [url]
  • Woods B, Calnan CD (1976) Toxic woods. British Journal of Dermatology 95(Suppl 13): 1-97 [doi] [url] [url-2] [pmid]
  • [ + 2 further references not yet included in database]

Richard J. Schmidt

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