Monkey Puzzle or Chile Pine

Highfield Park Tree Trail: Number 10

Latin/Botanical Name: Araucaria araucana

Range: Native to Argentina and Chile, widely planted by Victorians as an ornamental.

Height: up to 50m

Uses: Native peoples ate the seeds or ground them to flour, seeds were also fed to livestock, the wood was used for construction. Logging (particularly by European settlers) has been so extensive that the tree is now an endangered species.

Description: Evergreen and pyramid shaped, the leaves are stiff, dark green and glossy with a spiny tip; they completely cover each branch. The Monkey Puzzle is dioecious i.e. there are separate male and female plants; male cones are cylindrical and female cones globular. The bark is fire resistant, ideal for volcanic regions and they can live for 1000 years,

Interesting fact: The name Araucaria araucana comes from Araucanos, a group of Amerindian tribes still live in Chile and Argentina; the name Monkey Puzzle alludes to climbing the tree which would even puzzle a monkey (even though there are no monkeys in Chile or Agentina)!