Friday, May 16, 2008

Monkey Puzzle tree (Araucaria Araucana)

The story goes that the Monkey Puzzle tree got its peculiar name when someone in England looked at it and exclaimed "a monkey would be puzzled at how to climb that tree!". One look at the sharp, pointy leaves of this tree is enough to make one understand the comment and in case you are wondering there are no monkeys in this trees native range which just happens to be the South American country of Chile.

The Monkey puzzle tree (the scientific name is Araucaria araucana) is a tree that is sometimes referred to as a "living fossil" for being a remnant species that is found in the fossil record and has very few surviving relatives. There are some other species that still survive in the Araucaria genus among which are the Norfolk Island Pine, the Cook Pine and the Bunya Pine.

I came across an interesting piece of Araucaria natural history recently while visiting a rock shop at the Vantage Washington Ginkgo Petrified Forrest. What you see in the image below are fossilized Araucaria cones that have been carefully cut in half. If you look closely you can even see the cross-section of the seeds.
I took these pictures of a Monkey puzzle tree in Portland Oregon and in the image below you can see how one of them has spontaneously reproduced on its own.

I´ve also posted about the Araucaria araucana in "Exploring the World´s Tree Species2.


  1. Monkey puzzle trees grow in the older residential neighborhoods of Seattle, Washington State. Your top picture looks an awful lot like a Seattle Monkey Puzzle - the bungalow house and the Cedar or Douglas fir in the background clinch it.

    There are a lot of monkey puzzles particularly in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, where I used to live. Very nice to see your piece on them.

    They're hell to garden around, though. Ouch!

    Dan - I posted something for your on my blog today -

  2. There was a monkey puzzle in the yard of this home near where I live in Gresham, Oregon. It perplexed me to no end to figure out what kind of tree I dubbed the "upside down spider leg tree" was. This tree is spectacular. I spent most of my life in the south and have never seen anything like this and it is beautiful.

  3. Just wanted to use some of the info that Dan posted....writing a children's book
    thanks loren