Monkey-puzzle

┬ęPhilip Precey

Monkey-puzzle

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Scientific name: Araucaria araucana
The Monkey-puzzle tree is unmistakeable with its pyramidal shape, jutting branches and stiff, dark green 'spines' (its leaves). Widely planted in the UK's parks and gardens, it is threatened globally.

Top facts

Stats

Height: up to 50m

Conservation status

Introduced, but naturalised species. Listed as Endangered on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

When to see

January to December

About

The Monkey-puzzle is a large, evergreen tree that has been widely planted in parks and gardens. It was introduced into the UK from Chile in the 18th century by a botanist who managed to grow the seedlings on his ship and then donated them to Kew. By Victorian times, it had become a popular tree to plant in gardens and even in plantations.

What to look for

Monkey-puzzle trees are unmistakeable: they are pyramidal in shape, with horizontal branches jutting out from the trunk in tiers; the branches are covered in stiff, dark green spines that are actually leaves.

Where to find

Widespread.

Did you know?

The name 'Monkey-puzzle' comes from the Victorian idea that the arrangement of the branches of the tree would puzzle any monkey trying to climb it.