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Monkey puzzle

The Monkey Puzzle Tree, also known as Chilean Pine, is the common name for a genus, Araucaria, of slow growing conifers, especially Araucaria araucana. The name comes from the story that it would be a puzzle for a monkey to climb. Since monkeys so not live in Chile or Argentina, there have been many false stories about this South American tree.

The trees range from tender to hardy; A. araucaria is far and away the most hardy. They prefer well drained, slightly acidic, volcanic soil but will tolerate almost any soil type. They do not like exposure to pollution. They prefer temperate cimates with abundant rainfall.

The wood is sometimes used.

It is dioecious, with sexes separate. The female cone is huge, about the size of a human head, and has about 200 seeds in it. The male cone is oblong and cucumber-shaped.

The tree yields very little shade, with open centres and thick branches that give the tree a wonderful symmetric appearance. The leaves cover almost all parts and are thick, slightly sharp, and scale like. They are thinner on the cones. Like all conifers it is wind pollinated.

The tree does not yield seeds until it is around forty years old. Once fertilized, the female trees drop their cones.

The tree has huge potential to be a food crop for the future. The seeds are edible. Six female trees yield several thousands seeds per year. Since the cones drop, harvesting is easy.

A. araucana is popular in cultivation, where it is planted for its unusual effect.

External Links

  1. Monkey Puzzle Tree