Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Awesome Nature #3

Monkey Puzzle Tree
Type: Tree  Lives In: Peru and Argentina  Conservation Status: Vulnerable

I'm sure I'm not alone in finding these eye-catching trees interesting. They hardly seem to fit in with the oak, birch, and plane trees so commonly found here in the UK, but where did they come from? Well, for starters, 'monkey puzzle tree' appears to be a mere nickname - its official name is 'araucaria araucana' and it is native to Chile and Argentina where it was discovered in the 1780's. It's one of the slowest-growing trees in the conifer family and also one of the longest-lived - in it natural habitat it can live for as long as 1,000 years. Its nickname comes from the fact that every inch of it (except the trunk) is covered in hard, scale-like leaves which would no doubt cause monkeys and other trees-dwellers some problems in moving around it! Amusingly, its French name translates as 'monkeys despair' so I guess we're not the only ones to have noticed that!

Why They Are Awesome: Because they puzzle monkeys, of course!


  1. I planted one of those once. My Mom really liked them (they are a novelty to Canadians since they can only grow in a small stretch of the West coast where the climate is mild enough), so my dad and I planted one in the front yard of their old place. Very interesting tree. They are like razor blades though, if you brush against one you are likely to cut yourself (so you can imagine how much of a pain in the ass it was to plant one)!

    Nice post!

  2. Cheers! I always wanted one myself too, then I found out how much they cost! (>_<) There's a huge one near my house but I expect they grow many times larger in their native lands :)