Yup. It’s the monkey puzzle tree. Native to South America, Araucaria Araucana will eventually form a large stately evergreen tree, enough to baffle any monkey that happens by your garden. But it will take its time about it and can actually be a fine specimen for a big pot on the patio. Tightly packed whorls of triangular and rather spiky leaves clothe the long horizontal branches: it's a distinctive and arresting sight. Sun or semi-shade. Any reasonable soil. 2 litre pot.
Araucaria Araucana are normally offered in 2 litre pots as young specimens grown from seed and two to three years old. We usually also have larger plants in five litre pots which inevitably are rather more expensive at £25, but that's the way to go if you want immediate impact. Contact us to see what's currently available.
We have Archibald Menzies to thank for the introduction of the monkey puzzle tree to Britain at the end of the 18th century. He was apparently served the seeds (which are pretty imposing things, it has to be said) as a dessert at a dinner with the governor of Chile, saved some for later and planted them on board the ship (HMS Discovery, then being used for a round the world voyage of exploration by George Vancouver). He returned to England with five young plants, one of which survived at Kew Gardens until 1892.
The name Araucaria Araucana derives from the Araucanos,a group of tribes native to Chile and Argentina, for whom the monkey puzzle was a sacred tree and who used the seeds as part of their diet and for feeding livestock.
The 19th century saw intensive harvesting of Araucaria Araucana for timber, with vast areas being cut down, largely by European colonisers, leading to the status of the tree being threatened. In 1990 the monkey puzzle was declared a national monument and so awarded protection in the wild, and recent efforts have been made to restore plantations that had been destroyed.
In the garden it needs space if planted in the ground, as pruning is not an option for this tree. We think the monkey puzzle makes a good specimen in a large pot or planter, as it will be quite a few years before its size becomes less than manageable.
As for care, none is required. That's that sorted, then.
Araucaria Araucana is a large evergreen tree with spiky triangular leaves on arching horizontal branches suitable for sun or semi-shade.
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