41. Monkey Puzzle

(Araucaria araucana)

Family: Araucaraiceae


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On the lawn in front of Denny Hall down towards Savery Hall is a Monkey Puzzle. This is surely among the most memorable of all the campus trees. It is a common introduction in the maritime Northwest but rare or nonexistent in the rest of the United States. It is a native of Chile and Argentina, being the only commonly cultivated South American conifer hereabouts. Newcomers here are always amazed at its dark, snake-like branches and prehistoric looking trunk.


Similar to the ginko, this is an extremely old species and is known as a living fossil. The nuts from female trees provide a valuable food resource. The wood is also useful. Although this specimen is a female and it makes the large cones, the nuts within are mostly hollow. A pollinator male (with dangling, cucumber shaped cones) is necessary for meaty seeds.  Seeds are not usually produced until the tree is 30-40 years of age; however once established these trees can survive as long as 1,000 years.

[Leaves and cones of Monkey Puzzle]

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