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Monkey-puzzle (Chile Pine) Araucaria araucana (Araucariaceae) HEIGHT to 30m. Evergreen, domed to conical tree with a tall cylindrical trunk. BARK Greyish, tough, heavily ridged and wrinkled, with numerous rings of old stem scars. BRANCHES Horizontal or slightly drooping, evenly distributed around trunk. LEAVES 3–5cm long, oval, bright glossy green and scale-like. Tip is triangular with a sharp brownish spine. Leaf base overlaps shoot and next leaf and leaves are arranged in a dense spiral on shoot. REPRODUCTIVE PARTS Male cones, up to 10cm long, in clusters at shoot-tips. Female cones rounded, up to 17cm long and green for first 2 years, growing on upper surface of shoots; large scales taper to a slender outwardly curved point, and conceal 4cm-long, edible brown seeds. Trees are either male or female. HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION Native of the mountains of Chile and Argentina, first brought to Europe in 1795. Now common as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens. Grows well in towns, but prefers well-drained soils.
- © PAUL STERRY/Nature Photographers
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