Return To Homepage

Unusual & Old Fashioned Fruit Trees



Monkey Puzzle - Araucaria Araucana


The Monkey Puzzle was a native of Chile and Argentina, and has come to be planted widely throughout Europe because it is such an ornate tree. There are several varieties of Araucaria of which the Chile Pine is the only one hardy in the UK. At 70 –85 feet this spectacular tree is far too big for the average garden and with its unusual growing habit of producing very large prickly leaves/needles, it is unlike any other tree. The broad triangle shaped needles, last 10 – 15 years before being replaced, cover its sparse branches and trunk, and led early explorers to give it the name of the “Monkey puzzle,” because they thought it would be a puzzle for a monkey to climb it.

Trees have been a feature of English gardens since early explorers brought back seeds and small specimens, but none have been recorded as producing seeds. It is known that separate male and female plants are needed for pollination to occur and there is also a requirement for a specific small animal to complete the process.

In its natural habitat the Monkey Puzzle was for a long time an important source of food as the large seeds were boiled and eaten as a desert by the natives, but constant land clearance has decimated the habitat. The Araucaria is slow to grow and mature, is not being replanted and so eventually the trees are likely to disappear from the wild.

Although many Monkey Puzzles were planted in the last century in the UK they seemed to go out of favour for a while, but now more and more garden centres are selling them. Specimens are very expensive to buy costing tens of pounds for trees only a few feet tall and although larger specimens are fully hardy, the smaller they are, the more protection they will need.

Click Here For Information