What is a monkey puzzle tree?« Back to Questions List

Monkey puzzle tree is an odd looking tree native to South America which is also called Chile Pine. This tree is the national tree of Chile. The scientific name of the monkey puzzle tree is Araucaria araucana. They could also be seen at botanical gardens of Europe. It is so closely covered with overlapping spiny scales on the trunk and branches that is not climbable even by a monkey. Thus it got its name. 

monkey puzzle tree, conifer, Chile


The monkey puzzle is a conifer with hard, dark green scales instead of needles. It is contained in large cones, its almond size nuts were once a staple in the diet of people of certain regions of South America. Though monkeys do not climb these trees, they are visited by parrots that extract nuts with their powerful hooked bills.
The monkey puzzle  trees grow up to a height of 40m. These trees have an attractive pyramidal shape and are often planted in gardens and parks. As an ornamental tree, it is often used as emblem by the national parks and provinces of both Chile and Argentina. The tree is a good timber tree. The wood from this tree is very hard wood that has natural resistance to fungal decay. So, it is of great use in building constructions,
boat structures, piers and roofs.

The tree can live for even 1000 years and sometimes called as living fossil. The tree was declared a natural monument in Chile to provide it protection from logging activity. Today it is an endangered species due to its declining abundance.


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