This is a series of images comparing the Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island Pine) and the Araucaria columnaris (Cook Pine). I´ve been studying four different species in the Araucaria genus for about three years now. These two in particular are often mistaken one for the other and in fact I did not realize they were two tree species until I started getting a good look at them. The image above is about a half mile from my house on a historic peace of property called the "Finca of San Jose". It used to be a weathly persons large estate with a mansion but now it is an insane asylum. The original family owned a shiping company and had many exotic species of plants brought back which they planted on their estate. The reason the Cook Pine (on the right) is bent is that the top part of the tree died and a new top formed from below the dead portion. Norfolks are a lot less pointy at the top than Cooks.
The bark is one of the key differences in these two trees. The Cook pine has flaky bark that peals off in small rolls. The Norfolk only has a slight amount of flaking on a much smaller scale.
Young Norfolks are much less filled out than Cooks with more distace between the rings of branches. I´ve also notices that the branches of the cooks have more "leaves" then the Norfolks. Also Cooks almost always have a charactaristic lean and their trunk is often slightly bent. Norfolks on the other hand are very straight and upright.
I´ve noticed that the branches of the Cooks slope down and then curl up on the ends. The Norfolk tend to be straight out or sloped slightly up. The branches of the Norfolk also tend to be a lot longer than the Cooks (see the top image).
I´ve seen similar female cones on both of these trees but much more frequently on the Norfolks.
I recently came accross the image below at...
The author had it listed as a Norfolk Pine. It looks to me more like a Cook pine however as I have seen these same "blossoms" on other Cooks.Below is a picture that I took from a Araucaria Columnaris.