Native to Chile and Argentina, the Monkeypuzzle tree has very irregular branching. These endangered plants are a relic of prehistoric times, as the family dates back to the Jurassic. These are generally tolerant of most pests and diseases. These may grow to be over 31 meters (100 feet) tall in their native habitat.
Araucaria araucana (Monkeypuzzle Tree, Chilian Pine)
Hardiness Zones: 7b-11
Height: to 27 meters (90 feet) in cultivation, to 42 meters (130 feet) tall in native areas
Diameter: to 11 meters (35 feet) wide
Growth Rate: slow to moderate (30-60 centimeters (1-2 feet) annually)
Age: persists over 150 years old
Root System: considerable surface roots
Tolerates: breakage, drought (somewhat once established), most pests and diseases
Problems (major): none
Problems (minor): scale, sooty mold, leaf spot, root rot (in wet soils), needle necrosis, canker, mealybugs, thrips, spider mites
Soil requirements: prefers acidic, clay, fertile, slightly moist, well-drained soils, also grows in sandy/light and medium/loamy soils
Air requirements: prefers mild summers
Watering requirement: Moderate, foliage appreciates misting.
Sun requirement: full sun to occasional part-shade
Needles: scale-like, triangular, sharp, stiff, ovate to lanceolate, shiny green, stomata visible on top and bottom sides, may persist to 20 years on the trunk, to 15
years on branches
Cones (male): erect, turning pendant, axillary, up to 20 individual scales, to 5 centimeters (2 inches) long by 1 centimeter (0.5 inches) wide
Cones (female): globular, erect, spiny, may take 3 years to mature, fall at maturity, scales triangular, to 17 centimeters (7 inches) long by 15 centimeters (6 inches)
wide, up to 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) in weight
Seeds: brown or orange, winged, to 3.5 centimeters (1.5 inches) long, known as “pinones”, edible
Form: branches horizontal or arching upside down (sweeping upwards) in pairs of 5, somewhat columnar
Buds: prominent, terminal, conspicuous
Bark: smooth, spiky with scale-like needles, gray to brown, resinous, trunk to 1.2 meters (4 feet) wide
Seeds require stratification: no
Monoecious or Dioecious: either, likely monoecious where extremely few cones of one gender form
The branching pattern is highly irregular, curving upwards. This tree belongs to a very ancient family, reaching its peak during the Jurassic.
These are sometimes planted as peculiar ornamentals where space provides.
Several fairly mature Monkeypuzzle trees near a lake (uploaded by Wikipedia user Pixeltoo on 25 November 2010)
Multiple trees covered in snow in Conguillio National Park, Chile (uploaded 10 July 2007 by author “Grm.gustavo”)
Up-close view of the foliage (uploaded by Wikipedua user Amada44 on 8 December 2007)
Bark (uploaded by Wikipedia user Pixeltoo on 26 November 2010)
A large forest of Monkeypuzzle trees north of Volcan Quetrupillan (uploaded by Wikipedua user Amad44 on 11 December 2007)
I do not own the rights of these images; all credit goes to its original creator(s).