Monkey puzzle

Despite pleadings by my wife, who despises any plant with needles or spines, two Monkey Puzzles (Araucaria araucana, below) were planted earlier in the spring. Money puzzles have no thorns, but the stiff, scale-like leaves end in extremely sharp tips. It is a dangerous tree if not handled carefully.

Both trees are planted well off the paths, so there is no danger that a passerby will be injured unless they veer drunkenly off course. It could happen, I agree, but there are multiple ponds through the garden and there is a greater likelihood that our drunken visitor would drown. The garden can be a dangerous place, best navigated while sober.

My wife didn’t notice the monkey puzzles for weeks, but stuck at home, she finally started prowling outdoors once the weather turned, as she does looking to chop back offending branches that stray across the garden’s paths. Though I told her about it, I don’t think she’s seen the second one yet. It’s more out of harm’s way than the other, though it should be more prominent when it grows. The idea, of course, was not to annoy her, but to plant this unique tree.

But, to be a bit mischievous, several times I’ve dangled the prospect of planting a hardy orange (Poncirus trifoliata, above), with perhaps even more most prominent and lethal looking thorns than the Money puzzle. I really had no intention of planting one, but this makes the monkey puzzle seem to be no big deal. But as you would expect, and I should have known, this was not helpful.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Linus says:

    At least you don’t have to worry about the deer? You have full sun for the monkey puzzle tree?

    My variegated poncirus isn’t surviving so far in part shade.

    1. Dave says:

      One us in part shade, the other part sun. Years ago, another survived in full sun for several years, but I supposed that the combination of clay and humidity killed it.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Monkey puzzle trees are rare! I am aware of only a few here. In southern California, at least two forms of Norfolk Island pine are sometimes seen. (There are two of the floppy ‘houseplant’ sort on the street where my colleague lives in the Los Angeles region.) Bunya Bunya is sometimes seen in older neighborhoods of coastal towns like Santa Cruz and San Francisco. It is what most people believe to be a monkey puzzle tree.
    Hardy orange is not so rare, but only because it grows from the understock of a citrus tree that died or was cut down. It is nasty stuff!

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