WSU Clark County Extension

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Monkey Puzzle

Scientific name: Araucaria araucana

Type:Coniferous trees
Plant Requirements
Zone:7 to 11
Sun:Full sun
Plant Characteristics
Height:80 ft
Width:30 ft
Bloom:Spring flowers
Bloom Time:April to May
Bloom Color:Brown
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description A native to South America, the Monkey Puzzle tree is planted by northern hemisphere gardeners where they have the space to create a bold statement in the landscape.

This is an evergreen conifer that can grow to a height of 50’-80’ and a width of 25’ to 30’ at maturity. It develops a strongly conic shape with limbs near the base of the tree when it is young. As the tree matures it forms a spreading branch structure with either upturned ends or latter limbs that swoop, resembling the tails of monkeys holding onto the trunk. The branches grow horizontally in whorls of five in opposite pairs. The spiny, pointed leaves which are 1” to 2” long are spirally arranged and closely set on the limbs. Their ovate-lanceolate shape is uniform throughout the tree.

This species is classified as dioecious as both male and female trees can be found in the trade. Until the tree blooms, the sex of the tree can not be determined. In late winter the female trees set flowers which later give rise to cones which are erect, globular, dark brown, and 4 to 7 inches long by 3 to 6 inches wide. Male cones are smaller and have an ovoid to cylindrical shape. Sometimes both male and female flowers are on the same tree (monoecious).

In its native environment the Monkey Puzzle tree does best in maritime exposures with salt-laden winds and cool, mild climates. As all parts of the tree are spiny to the touch avoid planting it here falling debris (branches and cones) could harm people or structures beneath the canopy.

None reported.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
Computing and Web Resources, PO Box 6234, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6234