The Monkey Puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) is a tree native to South America. It is one of the strangest and at the same time most interesting trees that you will find. It is in the same tree family as the Norfolk Island Pine, the Cook Pine and the Bunya Pine (the araucaria genus). The pictures of this tree were taken in Portland Oregon.The images below is of a small new Monkey-puzzle tree that has begun to grow underneath a fairly large mature tree. I am not sure if this new tree is a volunteer from one of the roots or if it is from a seed.
The branches of this tree tend to break off right at the trunk after a number of years leaving only the branches towards the top of the tree still intact. When the trees are young this is not so noticeable but as the trees get on in years this habit gives the tree a marked “umbrella” shape with a tall branchless trunk leading up to a broad canopy .
I recently came accross this Monkey Puzzle tree in Portland, Oregon (near 82nd and Gleason). In recent weeks I have seen similar trees also in Northern Washington and in Vancouver BC in Canada. Unlike some of the other Araucarias this tree seems to handle freezing temps.
Like the other members of the araucaria genus this tree has rather unique leaves. The leaves grow along the full length of stems that can measure over one meter in length. The individual leaflets are simple in shape, although quite pointed , and are about 3-4cm in length. These individual leaflets stay on the stem until the whole stem turns brown and falls off the tree. Even when these stems lay on the ground the pointy leaflets still hold fast to the stem making for dangerous place to walk bare-footed.