Thursday, 28 February 2008

Monkey Puzzle Tree

In Nelson Park where I play petanque is a Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana). Described on the Napier City Council's Website Page devoted to Notable Trees Within The City as a well-shaped specimen with its characteristic straight central trunk and dome or umbrella shaped canopy with spoke-like branches. It is a female tree over 70 years old - the Araucaria araucana is usually dioecious, with the male and female cones on separate trees.

The Araucarias are a geologically ancient genus of evergreen trees endemic to South America, Australia and several Pacific Islands. Araucaria araucana is a native of Eastern South America from Chile southwards to Tierra Del Fuego. They are believed to be able to live to 1000 years and are often known as living fossils.

The rigid, prickly leaves prompted the remark "it would puzzle a monkey to climb it" giving rise to the common name "Monkey Puzzle".

The photo of the tree is from the Council's website. However it was the fact that several of the cones had dropped by the car and where we walk to and from the petanque club that prompted this posting. The cones weigh about 1.5 kilos and are too spiky to pick up. If one landed on the car or one's head the damage would be considerable or even fatal - to a human, probably not to a car!

1 comment:

  1. When I collected cones I desperately wanted one of these - unfortunately they usually disintegrate on the tree. Or, perhaps, in the light of their weight and sharpness, it's a good job they usually disintegrate on the tree!