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Seed of the Week: Monkey Puzzle Tree

Mary recognized that our mystery seeds from last week were from a cone, which is true. In fact they are from the cones of a monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana.

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Monkey puzzle trees are bizarre gymnosperms native to Chile and Argentina, although they are now grown throughout the world.

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They are slow-growing trees with sharp, triangular leaves and spines on the trunks. The story goes that supposedly the name comes from man who suggested that the trees would be a real puzzle for a monkey to climb.

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In South America, the seeds are used as food. The trees are also used for lumber, although efforts are being made to protect the trees because they are rapidly disappearing.

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All of these photographs were taken in Chile, but it can be grown in North America (see map at bottom).

Have you ever seen a monkey puzzle tree? Where was it?

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Thanks to my husband and his colleagues for making this post possible.

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