Although the majority of the country’s citizens are unaware of the extraordinary nature of their country’s biological patrimony, a few of the country’s animals and plants have become somewhat emblematic in local culture. Among the best known is a hen-sized, flightless bird, commonly-known as the Cagou or Kagu, which has a large crest and an odd barking call. Its song and image are frequently seen as nationally-recognized icons. Another commonly used cultural emblem is the Columnar or Cook’s Pine (Araucaria columnaris), an important symbol in Kanak culture. The Niaouli tree (also native to Australia and New Guinea), is of medicinal interest, locally and abroad. Its sap (which contains Gomenol, a camphor-smelling compound), is used to treat head colds, and as an antiseptic. It also shows potential to treat other medical ailments. Before the Europeans arrived, there was no mammal other than the Roussette (aka flying fox), a large vegetarian bat, considered a local delicacy.
Less well-known by the native population is the fact their country is home to a species of plant, (Amborella trichopoda), believed to be genetically close to the ancestor of all flowering plants, or the fact their nation boasts the largest number and diversity of conifer species in the world, per unit of geographic area (a remarkable fact, given that conifers are usually relatively rare in tropical regions).