Monkey Puzzle tree - Araucaria araucana

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.

Also posted in "Evergreen Tree Species" Blog.


  1. This Blog is looking really good! Great job!

  2. Nice pictures. Thank you.
    I remember having seen a few ones in gardens in Algeria when I was a little boy.
    But I have also recently seen several ones in Ariège (French Pyrenees) at about 600m high, and many other ones in French Britany.
    It means they can stand quite bitter cold and also a lot of rain.

  3. I grew up in Florida, where the araucana is used as an ornamental. Live in Virginia now and bought one to plant. Very slow-growing, but does well in freezing zones.

  4. I believe I have one in Victoria, Australia at a town called Mount Macedon. We are at 650m and I am searching for more information. I would appreciate any comment. Thank-you.

    1. A. araucana (Monkey Puzzle Tree from Chili) was sighted on 26.09.2012 in George Tindale Memorial Garden in Mt Dandenong, Victoria, Australia. (Alfred Sin)

  5. We heard that there is an interesting story as to how the monkey puzzle arrived in Orgon. Any body know about this?

  6. Another Araucaria that exhibits significant cold hardiness is Araucaria angustifolia, the Parana Pine. It is critically endangered in the wild but it is cultivated from time to time in gardens. A small specimen grew for several years unprotected in the Amsterdam botanical garden ( The Hortus ). Its maybe worth a try in for example southwest England near the sea.