Monkey Puzzle Tree Facts
- Monkey Puzzle Tree serves as the colloquial name for the Araucaria araucana. This plant species remains an ancient one that often gets called a living fossil.
- The rather unique name also originated in 1850 when someone observed that it would puzzle a monkey to climb it. How that person came up with that description is just incredible.
- The Monkey Puzzle Tree is so ancient, it is a living fossil, and humorously, it would puzzle a monkey.Click To Tweet
- But this tree remains very rare in the wild. Though it develops as a hardy and resilient variety, its numbers seem to be dwindling rapidly in nature. It now forms a popular garden species in some regions.
Monkey Puzzle Tree Physical Description
The remarkable Monkey Puzzle Tree tree represents a dioecious species. The cones of individual trees typically all form either male or female though occasional exceptions occur.
This evergreen also attains a height of as much as 130 ft (40 m), and the trunks reach 7 ft (2.14 m) in diameter.
In addition, the wind serves as the primary pollinator. The seed cones of the Monkey Puzzle Tree reach about 8 in (20 cm) in diameter and disintegrate upon maturity. The seeds released reach roughly 1.6 in (4 cm) in length.
The leaves of the Monkey Puzzle Tree also grow thick and tough, and also roughly triangular in shape.
This species evolved as extremely long-lived. Some individuals also measure more than 1,000 years old.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Pinophyta
- Class: Pinopsida
- Order: Pinales
- Family: Araucariaceae
- Genus: Auracaria
- Species: A. auracana
Monkey Puzzle Tree Habitat and Uses
The Monkey Puzzle Tree evolved as endemic only to the lower slopes of the Andes Mountains in portions of Argentina and Chile, in South America. Within this region, the tree generally grows at altitudes above 3,300 ft (1,000 m).
Though rather tolerant of diverse soil types in cultivation, the Monkey Puzzle Tree occurs naturally only in regions of slightly acidic volcanic soil with excellent drainage.
Its rather unique appearance also makes it popular in gardens. Besides, the seeds remain edible and highly nutritious for which they get widely harvested in Chile.
Due to both its scarcity, and sacred status to members of the local indigenous peoples, the Mapuche Native Americans, the tree now holds the status of a protected species in the wild.
The cause of its decline in the wild comes from a loss of habitat due to human encroachment. No surprise there. Therefore, the IUCN lists the species as Endangered.