Araucaria araucana (Molina) K.Koch

Monkey Puzzle

A broadly domed, wrinkly barked tree to about 20 m tall. Branches upwardly curved, mostly in whorls of 5, the whole tree displaying an extraordinary symmetry. Leaves stout, triangular, overlapping, 3-5 cm long, 1-2 cm wide with sharp terminal prickles. Male cones borne just behind the branch tips, 8-15 cm long in groups of 1-6. Female cones solitary, erect, more or less cylindrical, usually axillary, 10-13 cm long, 5-6 cm wide, usually produced Oct.-Dec. and said to take 2-3 years to mature. Seed slightly flattened, wingless.

Grows best in moist cool soils and is not really suited to the climate of south-eastern Australia. Occasionally offered in the nursery trade but more widely grown in the 19th century.

Chile & Argentina (S Andes).

A timber tree in S America where there is concern for the species through over-exploitation. The seeds are edible either raw or when roasted like chestnuts, or boiled.

Domed canopy; rigid broad-based leaves; cf. A. bidwillii.

NSW: Orange (Uniting Church, Spring Hill Village near airport). VIC: Dandenong (Mount Dandenong Arboretum); Daylesford (Bot. Gds); East Trentham; Kyneton (Bot. Gds, poor condition); Mt Macedon ('Alton' and other Mt Macedon properties); Springmount ('The Firs'). TAS: West Takone (19 km W of Murchison Hwy, c. 70 years old in 1990).


Araucaria muelleri (Royal Bot. Gds, Melbourne, Hopetoun Lawn) is similar to A. araucana but has shorter leaves, 2.5-3.0 cm long, and longer male cones.

A. angustifolia (Bertoloni) Kuntze from N Argentina and S Brazil has a smooth trunk, flat canopy and horizontal branches with tufts of foliage at the tips; the leaves are similar to those of A. bidwillii but stiffer, narrower, bluish below; the leaves are also narrower than those of A. araucana and the male cones long, cylindrical and pendulous, not club-shaped and erect as in A. araucana. Young trees of A. angustifolia several metres tall may be seen at the Otway Ridge Arboretum, Victoria.

Source: Spencer, R. (1995). Araucariaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 1, Ferns, conifers & their allies. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

Hero image
Distribution map
kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Pinopsida
order     Pinales
family      Araucariaceae
genus       Araucaria Juss.