The Monkey Puzzle Tree

A Mon­key Puzzle?

My love affair with trees con­tin­ues. I could have eas­ily built a tour around the trees we saw in Ire­land! My favorite is the Mon­key Puz­zle Tree, pic­tured above. It’s latin name, Arau­caria arau­cana, is derived from the city of Arauco in South­ern Chile, the area it is indige­nous to. This conifer (cone-​bearing) lives 100200 years on aver­age and some have been alive over 800 years, reach­ing heights of over 100 feet. Even the indi­vid­ual leaves can live 15 years.

Mon­key puz­zle trees have been used by the native peo­ple of Chile as a food — they have almond shaped seeds — and for cer­e­mo­nial pur­poses. They will tol­er­ate most well-​drained soils and a cool, mild and humid cli­mate, exactly what this one is get­ting in the Con­nemara area of Ire­land. This beauty resides on the grounds of Bal­ly­nahinch Cas­tle, in the west.

The leaves of the mon­key puz­zle tree

On the web:

  • Theodore Payne Native Plants, East Val­ley; Sat­ur­day 628: Classes on native plant design and col­lect­ing, pro­cess­ing and sav­ing native plant seed (www​.theodor​e​payne​.org)
  • Jack­a­lope Pot­tery, No. Hol­ly­wood, con­tin­ues to offer some intrigu­ing free classes (www​.jack​alope​pot​terynh​.com)
  • Tree of Life, San Juan Capis­trano; Sat­ur­day 630: Cus­tomer appre­ci­a­tion day, 10% off plants all day + Free lunch! (not a mis­print — www​.cal​i​for​ni​a​na​tive​plants​.com)
  • City Farm­ers Nurs­ery, San Diego: sign up for the annual pumpkin/​zucchini grow­ing contest…

2 Responses to The Monkey Puzzle Tree

  • We have one of these trees, planted around 1920. We were told that it was called a Mon­key Pod or Bunya Bunya Tree. They are not for all gar­dens. They are very messy and the razor-​like leaf edges can be painful if stepped on or han­dled with bare hands. The cones are over a foot long and weigh more than 20 pounds. The nuts are nearly golf ball sized and cov­ered with the tough­est cas­ing I have ever encoun­tered. If you man­age to get one open, it tastes like a very starchy pine nut.. Not all pro­duce cones. Our tree seems to pro­duce cones on a 2 year cycle. Warts and all, we love our giant.

  • I also have a tree like this in my side­yard and you do not want to be stand­ing under it when those cones fall!!!

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