Monkey Puzzle Tree



Araucaria araucana - an evergreen tree that grows up to 50m tall and is native to Chile. Its bark is resinous and its leaves are spiky, arranged spirally around the trunk and branches. In Chile the tree is sacred - the seeds are an ancient staple of their diet. The species was alive over 200 million years ago, and lived alongside the dinosaurs. Its spine like leaves acted as protection from grazing animals that are now long extinct. It can live for 1000 years. The tree is home to the slender-billed parakeet and over 70 types of insects that live nowhere else on earth, but no monkeys! Sadly, these trees have been heavily logged for over a century. In the UK, the monkey puzzle became an archetypal Victorian park tree. In 1976 they were declared 'natural monuments' and nature reserves were set up to protect them, but they are still under threat.