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!