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.
Monkey puzzle trees are bizarre gymnosperms native to Chile and Argentina, although they are now grown throughout the world.
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.
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.
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?
Thanks to my husband and his colleagues for making this post possible.