Araucaria araucana

7 Feb

Araucaria araucana detail, 31/01/11-London

Araucaria araucana detail, 31/01/11-London

Position: Full sun

Soil: Moist, well drained,  acidic.

Flowering period: Late winter to early spring

Eventual Height: 25m

Eventual Spread: 10m

Hardiness: 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b

Family: Araucariaceae

Araucaria araucana is an evergreen tree with a conical habit when immature, and losing the lower branches on maturity it develops a more rounded umbrella habit. The  branches have whorls of sharp, leathery, and pointed dark green leaves covering the whole branch. The trunk losses these leaves as it matures and they are replaced by dark, tough horizontally banded bark. The female cones are ovoid and 15cm in length, they mature over 2 to 3 years bearing edible seeds. The male cones are cylindrical to ovoid and 15 cm long. We have heard report of the male cones swelling to many times their original size before releasing pollen, we would invite reader comments on this matter.

Araucaria araucana Mature Tree (20/01/12, London)

Araucaria araucana Mature Tree (20/01/12, London)

Araucaria araucana, commonly known as the Chilean Pine or Monkey Puzzle Tree, is native to Chile. It was first introduced to Great Britain by Archibald Menzies in 1795. It is classified as likely to become endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It has been historically used by Native American tribes for its nut like seeds which are similar to pine nuts and form a large part of certain tribes diets. The common name was derived from a comment made by a visitor to one of Sir Joseph Banks’ plantings, who said that it would “puzzle any monkey to climb”

Araucaria araucana Branches (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

Araucaria araucana Branches (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

The etymological root of the binomial name Araucaria was named after the native Araucanians in 1789 by Antoine Laurent de Jussieu. Araucana  was from the first botanical classification of the tree in 1782 by Fr. Juan Ignacio Molina when it was named Pinus araucana, similarly after the native tribe.

Araucaria araucana Young Tree (31/01/11, London)

Araucaria araucana Young Tree (31/01/11, London)

Araucaria araucana is useful to the landscape architect as a specimen tree as it is unusual appearance and attractive habit when immature and at maturity. Due to its open canopy light levels at the base of this tree are often high and can therefore accommodate a wide range of planting. Once established it will achieve a large spread and height and should only be planted with sufficient space.

Ecologically, Araucaria araucana nuts are eaten by some mammals.

Araucaria araucana prefers moist, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil, although it prefers slightly acidic soils. It will not tolerate water logging.

Araucaria araucana requires little maintenance.

Davis Landscape Architecture

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