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The tree is considered a living fossil, native to the Andes in Chile and Argentina.  This coniferous evergreen was growing over 200 million years ago on what was once the super continent of Gondwana.

The Andean cultures consider this tree sacred.  The local Pehuen peoples were hunter gatherers and their diet consisted mostly on the edible seeds.

The Monkey Puzzle cones, pinones, can be stored for up to 4 years and can be made into flour, make alcohol, boiled or roasted, flavoured with coriander or chilli seeds.

The Monkey Puzzle tree was brought back from Chile to England on the ship Discovery by a Scottish surgeon and botanist Archibald Menzues in 1795.  

In 1850, Charles Auston saw a young tree growing in Cornwall, and remarked ‘it would puzzle a monkey to climb that’, hence the name.

Monkey Puzzles can live for 2000 years.

Its wood is fine grained and knot free.

In 1976 these trees were granted ‘Natural Monument’ status in their homeland

Legend has it that one must keep quiet when walking past this tree, as you might attract the devil that sits on its branch.

The tree is known locally as the ‘Penwen’ tree.

The wood from the Monkey Puzzle tree is rot resistant and impervious to fungal decay consequently therefore the wood is often used in shipbuilding, piers, rafters, bridges and beams

Dick Warner, a columnist, once wrote of the tree as being ‘disturbingly extra-terrestrial’ and ‘invariably ugly’.

The Telegraph newspaper once quoted the tree as a ‘love it or loathe it’ tree.

The Brontosaurus allegedly once fed on the tree.

The Monkey Puzzle tree became iconic in Victorian times and in the 1840’s cost the equivalent of a live-in housemaid’s wages for one whole year

The Monkey Puzzle tree is Chile’s national tree and described by the Chilean poet come politician Pabli Neruda as the trees that lent refuge to the native peoples when being pursued by the conquistadors.  Neruda described the Monkey Puzzle cones as opening like a ‘wooden rose’.

The Mapuch peoples consider the tree sacred, and permission be sought from the tree and thanks given before picking the fruit, to appease the trees spirit.