Monkey Puzzle

Araucaria araucaria

Araucaria araucaria is an evergreen tree commonly called the Monkey Puzzle, Chilean Pine or Monkey Tail Tree. It can grow to 40 meters and is a native of southern Chile and western Argentina. The strange scale-like tringular leaves can live for a quarter of a century and the tree itself over 1000 years! It has a thick bark which is thought to have developed as a resistance to wild fires.

It is a popular garden tree and its seeds are edible similar to pine nuts and are harvested by the indigenous population of Argentina and Chile.

Funky Facts File: Because these type of trees were once the most prevalent in geological times it is sometimes called a living fossil. As one name suggests, it is the national tree of Chile, where, sadly, logging and forest fires and clearing for grazing has now made it endangered in its native land.

Oddly, the seeds are dispersed by rodents. The long-haired grass mouse that eats the seeds sometimes buries them in locations where they have suitable growing conditions.

Monkey Puzzle in a Cliftonville Garden © Bo Beolens