You've never seen a more unusual tree until you've grown the rare Monkey Puzzle Tree! Also called Chilean Pine for its native home, this unique evergreen boasts a showy architectural form and draws attention all year round. And it's so easy to grow! It tolerates salt spray and almost any soil as long as it's well-drained, is rarely bothered by pests or disease, and requires absolutely no pruning to develop its eye-catching structure. AKA as a Bunya-Bunya tree, False monkey puzzle tree ,Arauaria bidillii.
(Pehuén or Monkey-puzzle) is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria. It is native to central Chile and west central Argentina, and is an evergreen tree growing to 40 m tall and 2 m trunk diameter. Because of the species' great age it is sometimes described as a living fossil.
The leaves are thick, tough and scale-like, triangular, 3–4 cm long, 1–3 cm broad at the base, and with sharp edges and tip. They persist for 10–15 years or more, so cover most of the tree except for the older branches.
Preferring well-drained, volcanic soil, this species is surprisingly tolerant of many soil types. It is very tolerant of maritime exposures, salt-laden winds, and thrives in cool, mild climates. It dislikes hot-dry soils and atmospheric pollution.
It is usually dioecious, with the male and female cones on separate trees, though occasional individuals bear cones of both sexes. The male (pollen) cones are oblong and cucumber-shaped, 4 cm long at first, expanding to 8-12 cm long by 5-6 cm broad at pollen release. The tree is wind pollinated. The female (seed) cones, which mature in autumn about 18 months after pollination, are globose, large, 12-20 cm diameter, and hold about 200 seeds. The cones disintegrate at maturity to release the 3-4 cm long nut-like seeds, which are then dispersed by jays and squirrels.
Its native habitat is the lower slopes of the Chilean and Argentinian south-central Andes, typically above 1000 m, in regions with heavy snowfall in winter. Juvenile trees exhibit a broadly pyramidal or conical habit which naturally develops into the distinctive umbrella form of mature specimens as the tree ages. It prefers well drained, slightly acidic, volcanic soil but will tolerate almost any soil type provided drainage is good.
First found in Chile in the 1780s, it was named Pinus araucana by Molina in 1782. In 1789, de Jussieu had erected a new genus based on the species, and in 1797 Pavón published a new description of the species which he called Araucaria imbricata (an invalid name, as it did not use Molina's older species epithet). Finally in 1873, after several further redescriptions, Koch published the combination , validating Molina's name in the genus.