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Tree Appreciation Hour: Monkey Puzzle Tree!

Nicolas already mentioned Araucaria araucana in his previous post, but the tree is so amazing that it deserves an appreciation post of its own. The tree is better known in the States by its colloquial name: Monkey Puzzle Tree. The curious name is a product of the tree’s spiny branches, which would be a challenging ascent for even the master climbers themselves. This national tree of Chile is native to Chile (suprise!) and Argentina. It grows up to 40 m in height and 1.5 m in diameter in primarily the lower slopes of the Andes. Also, the trees live for up to 1,000 years! Wowza! It’s hardy enough that it thrives on several continents (North America, Oceania, Europe, and Asia). However, in 2013, it was named endagered by the IUCN.

One of the many reasons it is endangered is the over-collecting of piñones. The tree’s seeds are edible and harvested for food via dropped pinecones. Mature trees of at least thirty years old can yield hundreds and hundreds of seeds. Other threats to the species are logging, forest fires, and overgrazing. Laws have been put in place in Chile to protect the trees from overgrazing, but the tree remains in danger of extinction. We’re not sure if we’re going to go and see these trees, but we’ll keep you posted.

A. araucana branch

pinones_de_araucaria_cocinadosA.araucana branch and piñones

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