Baby Monkey

Monkey Puzzle Tree Seedling
Monkey Puzzle Tree Seedling

Now that I’m working at the Horticultural Program at Lake Washington Institute of Technology I have access to a greenhouse.  The students grow all types of crops, from vegetables to fuchsia baskets to perennials.  The season is in full swing and I’ve been learning a lot about greenhouse growing.  Everything is different inside.  Watering and controlling pests and diseases takes on a new perspective from inside a 65F greenhouse.  Some of the students have been trying to germinate the seeds of Araucaria araucana, the Monkey Puzzle tree.  It took about two months, but just a few of them have begun to sprout, and they are so cute!  Tiny little baby monkeys coming from a surprising seed.  This tree is so pokey and sharp that it was said to  be a puzzle for a monkey to climb it.  I first met this tree in Spreckels Park in central California.  It grows directly over the childrens playground and not a good tree for tender little feet.  The branches dry up and fall off onto the sand and are as sharp as a knives.  A dangerous tree in that respect.  It’s also rather pokey in the nursery and best handled with care.  The monkey puzzle tree is dioecious and has separate male and female trees with the female producing edible nut-like seeds.  Unfortunately, this tree is listed as endangered in it’s native Chile due to fire, logging and grazing.

Just the Facts
Araucaria araucana    Monkey Puzzle Tree or Chilean Pine
Height 50-80 (15-24m)
Width 20-30 (6-9m)
Zones 7-10
Full sun
Native to Chile and Argentina

3 thoughts on “Baby Monkey

  1. I love monkey puzzle trees, but rarely see them. In fact I don’t think I’ve seen any in Germany… maybe too cold. But in the UK there used to be a great specimen on the main road into town that was almost a landmark as it stood out. Hope it’s still there!

  2. Just started visiting Spreckels in 2020 even though I grew up the next town over. Tree is spectacular. My first experience with monkey puzzle was as a child visiting the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and reading the description. Over thirty years later, I find it within ten miles of my childhood home.

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