Monkey Puzzle

Monkey Puzzle

Common name Monkey Puzzle
Botanical name Araucaria araucana
Family Araucariaceae
Natural range southern Chile/Argentina
Mature height to 30m
Form Like a Christmas tree when young
Likes Being very spiky
Dislikes Being logged
Where to plant Interesting specimen tree
Known for Being a ‘living fossil’

Meet the Monkey Puzzle: An Evergreen Enigma?

The Monkey Puzzle, or Araucaria araucana as botanists call it, is a member of the Araucariaceae family. This quirky conifer hails from southern Chile and Argentina, where it scales heights of up to 30m. Its form resembles a Christmas tree when young and gets notably spiky as it matures.

Where to Plant Araucaria Araucana in Your Garden?

The Monkey Puzzle stands out as a captivating specimen tree in any garden. Known for its striking appearance, this ‘living fossil’ certainly adds an interesting and somewhat whimsical touch to any landscape.

Does the Monkey Puzzle Tree Have a Prehistoric Connection?

The Monkey Puzzle tree is an ancient species, having graced the Earth for at least 200 million years. It’s thought that its distinctive, spiky, leathery leaves, which spiral around the trunk, evolved as a deterrent against hungry dinosaurs. These triangular, glossy leaves are tough at the base, sharp at the edges, and provide a uniquely textural addition to the tree’s overall allure.

Why is the Monkey Puzzle Tree at Risk?

Despite their intriguing appeal, Monkey Puzzle trees have been heavily logged for over a century due to their excellent knot-free timber. Efforts to protect them increased in 1976 when they were declared ‘natural monuments’, but threats remain in their native regions.

Can Araucaria Araucana Seeds Feed the Future?

The Monkey Puzzle’s seeds are not only edible but also highly nutritious. They are widely harvested in Chile, where they hold cultural significance for the indigenous people. The potential of the Monkey Puzzle tree as a future food crop is promising. A small cluster of trees can yield thousands of seeds annually, making it a viable long-term food source. However, these trees don’t produce seeds until they are around 30 to 40 years old, requiring a long-term commitment from those willing to harvest.

Can Monkey Puzzle Thrive in Australia?

Yes, they can! Despite their native preference for altitudes of 1000-2000m, Monkey Puzzle trees can adapt to lower altitudes. They flourish best in well-drained, slightly acidic volcanic soil, but can manage in almost any well-draining soil type.

Interesting Facts About Monkey Puzzle Tree:
  1. It’s a ‘living fossil’ dating back at least 200 million years.
  2. The tree’s unique leaves are believed to have evolved to deter dinosaurs.
  3. Despite being declared ‘natural monuments’, these trees are still at risk in their native ranges.
Additional Resources on Monkey Puzzle Tree:
  1. The Monkey Puzzle Tree’s Historical Significance
  2. Potential of Monkey Puzzle as a Future Food Crop
  3. Challenges to the Survival of Monkey Puzzle Tree
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