19. Monkey Puzzle

Monkey Puzzle

Araucaria araucana K.Koch

Native Range: Chile and Argentina, down both sides of the Andes with two small populations inChile

  • The Chilean Pine was discovered by Spanish explorer Don Francisco Dendariaena in the 17th Century and introduced to Britain by Archibald Menzies in 1795. He is said to have pocketed some Monkey Puzzle nuts from the dinner table when his ships crew dined as guests of the governor of Chile. The seeds grew into five health saplings that were eventually returned to Britain.
  • The tree derives its name from the Araucano indigenous people of Chile. They had traditionally used the tree seed as an important seasonal food.
  • There are no monkeys in the native range of the tree.
  • The environment that the tree survives in is very dynamic and the effects of volcanoes, fire, landslides, snow avalanche and high wind have led to some unusual adaptations. Unlike most conifers Araucaria spp. can sprout from cut stumps (epicormic buds)  or underground roots after being felled and it has very thick bark.
  • The tree is threatened by land use change, mining and quarrying and over exploitation as a cheap source of timber.
  • It is incredibly long lived tree with specimens over 1300 years old not uncommon.

The tree has an IUCN rating of ‘Endangered’

Premoli, A., Quiroga, P. & Gardner, M. 2013. Araucaria araucana. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 12 February 2014

Eckenwalder, J. (2009) Conifers of the World, Timber Press

Bean, W.J., (1989), Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles(8th edn) John Murray London

Rushforth, K. (1999) Trees of Britain and Europe, Collins