It's been called the botanical discovery of the century.
It was 16 years ago this month when Australian outdoorsman David Noble went on a hike less than 100 miles from downtown Sydney. David and two companions descended into a deep, sheltered canyon in the rugged Blue Mountains. Exploring the remote canyon, he came upon a small group of odd-looking trees.
The trees had unusual bark that resembled bubbles of chocolate, multiple trunks, ferny-looking leaves and were up to 100 feet tall. Curious, Noble took a fallen branch home to show to Wyn Jones, a senior naturalist with the National Parks and Wildlife Service. After a cursory glance, Jones told Noble that he thought the branch was from a fern.
"No," Noble said, "It's from a bloody great big tree."
Two weeks later, the two returned to the canyon with Jones to see the trees in the wild. They definitely were not ferns.