Araucaria Aracana, commonly known as the Monkey Puzzle Tree or Chilean Pine, is a stunning specimen tree with unusual evergreen leaves. Once you have seen one, you will never forget it! It is a slow growing upright tree from the conifer family with evergreen spirally arranged sharp pointed leaves. Instantly recognisable due to its unusual shape and leaves this is an architectural tree that adds height and interest. Native to Chile and Argentina, the first Araucaria Aracana seeds were brought to the UK in 1795 by Archibald Menzies, who saved 2 seeds from nuts served to him as dessert by the Governor of Chile. The exotic trees became popular in the UK, and many were planted in gardens that proved to be too small for the full-sized trees. The spiky, triangular leaves overlap, covering each branch to the tip. Mature trees may bear seed cones on the upper branches. Fully hardy throughout the UK and northern Europe, Araucaria Aracana will grow over a period of more than 50 years to a magnificent height of more than 25 metres and spread of 10 metres. Very slow growing, the annual growth rate is around 35 cm. Trees in their native Chile have survived for up to 1000 years! Monkey Puzzle Trees can only be pruned successfully when young, but they do not need pruning to maintain their distinctive shape. While young trees have a pyramidal shape, the lower branches will be lost as the tree matures, creating a rounder crown. Plant your Monkey Puzzle Tree in full sun (although it will tolerate partial shade) in a sheltered spot with a south, east or west-facing aspect, in moist but well-drained sand, loam or chalk soil. As the tree grows it will be difficult for other plants to thrive within the spread of its roots. Choose the planting site for your Araucaria Aracana carefully, taking into consideration its mature size. The Monkey Puzzle is not a tree for a small garden! However, in parkland or on a large property, it will become a stunning focal point. Its architectural qualities are very desirable where it has room to spread. It can be planted as specimen tree to create a focal point in the middle of a large lawn, where it will be instantly recognisable due to its unusual shape and leaves. Lining an avenue on a country property, a row of Monkey Puzzle Trees make a magnificent sight. They are tolerant of salt and so make a good choice for planting in coastal locations. Araucaria Aracana is a magnificent hardy tree which needs full sun. If you have the room for it, an Araucaria Aracana will make a stunning addition to your landscape. Monkey Puzzle trees are under threat in their natural habitat, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Scotland have planted the largest forest of Araucaria Aracana outside of their native Chile in an effort to preserve the genome of these amazing trees as climate change forest fires have decimated these trees in the wild, 1000 year old trees lost in a moment, they are becoming very rare in the wild. You can visit the extraordinary forest of over 150 monkey puzzle trees growing at Benmore Gardens in Argyll, West Coast of Scotland.