Meet the Monkey Puzzle Tree: Ashland Tree of the Year 1990

By John Yunker on

John Yunker

Playwright, author of the environmental novel The Tourist Trail and co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

When I first heard of a tree called the Monkey Puzzle, I went straight to Wikipedia.

Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that this tree is native to western Argentina and central and southern Chile (and is the national tree of Chile). It’s a very old species of tree, referred to as a “living fossil.” And its scientific name is Araucaria araucana, which means I’ll be sticking with calling it the Monkey Puzzle.

As you can see, this is a challenging tree to photograph It is located on a steep hill and I found that whenever I visited I was always shooting into a bright sky. It didn’t help much that I have no idea how to adjust the light settings on my camera. But you’ll have to trust me when I say the branches are green.

When I zoom in you can get a better sense for its branches — and it quickly becomes apparent how this tree earned its nickname.

You can find the Monkey Puzzle on this Google Map I’ve assembled.

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