The Monkey Puzzle Tree or Auraucaria aracana is also known as the Chilean pine even though it is not a pine tree though it is in the Conifer family. It is native to southern and central Chile & Argentina. It is called a living fossil because the species is so old. It’s leaves are thick scales with sharp edges and points on them. It is dioecious meaning that there are male and female trees. It can grow to over 100 ft tall. The picture here is a young tree but as the tree grows older the lower branches die off and it becomes a long open trunk with a pyramid of foliage at the top. The seeds are edible, similar to a pine nut, but the tree doesn’t produce any until it is 30-40 years old. The good news is that the cones drop to the ground so you don’t have to climb it to harvest the seeds!
So how did it get it’s name if no monkeys live in Chile or Argentina? Well, legend has it that it was named by a Brit who had no knowledge of Chile, obviously! He was amazed by a specimen that had been brought to the UK in the 1850’s and like many people who think all of South America is the Amazon jungle he said “It would puzzle a monkey to climb that tree!” and the name Monkey Puzzle stuck. Here in Chile it is called Pehuen.
The female cones
This flower blooms all winter and is great food for the hummingbirds who live here year round.
The Acacia or Mimosa tree in spanish it is called Los Aromos because of it’s beautiful fragrance
The mystery tree- anyone ID this for me?