Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Chilean in Scotland

My friend Frances took this neat photo during a recent trip to Scotland—a small "monkey tree" on the grounds of Balloch Castle. I did some googling to learn more about this funky-looking plant. Also called the monkey puzzle tree and Chilean pine, Araucaria araucana is native to Chile and Argentina. It is a threatened/protected species in its native habitat.

I love the warning on this Web site: "Monkey puzzle tree drops branchlets and sharp-pointed leaves almost continuously." And this ringing endorsement from a Dave's Garden member in California: "My trees are 120 years old—part of a large garden which belonged to a Sanitarium in the 1890s. The dropped limbs and cones are extremely dangerous. Cones the size of basketballs have dropped, weighing 17 pounds."

Wow, perfect castle defense!

There's an interesting historical photo and links to more info at the UBC Botanical Garden Web site. I loved these two reader comments on that page:
Chuck wrote:

The only time I've ever heard of this, the "monkey puzzle tree," prior to this email, was in the film The Ghost and Mrs. Muir starring, if memory serves, Rex Harrison and (possibly) Gene Tierney. The Mrs. Muir character angers the sea captain by cutting down his monkey puzzle tree.

Abbas wrote:

This is a very interesting and mind cooling photo. It is recommendable to show more pictures like this in this scenario in the future also.
Mind-cooling. I like that.

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