Monkey puzzle

An evergreen tree growing in the Outdoor Gardens

By Eden Project

Eden Project

Monkey puzzle, Outdoor Gardens (2020) by Eden ProjectEden Project

In Chile the tree is called the Pehuén and is sacred to the local Pehuenche people: its seeds are an ancient staple of their diet. The tree possibly gained its name because it would be a real puzzle for monkeys to climb up its whorls of spiny leaves, but there are no monkeys in Chile!

Monkey puzzle, Outdoor Gardens (2020) by Eden ProjectEden Project

It can live for 1,000 years and grows to 50m high with a trunk diameter of over 3m. Its large seeds, pinones, take two years to mature.

Monkey puzzle, Outdoor Gardens (2020) by Eden ProjectEden Project

These trees have been heavily logged for over a century for their fine knot-free timber. They were first used extensively to make railway sleepers for access to the coal fields, steel works, paper mills and ceramics industries that built up around Concepción, the port at the industrial heart of Chile. Later the timber was used for general carpentry, ladders, skis, piano interiors, oars, rulers and even aeroplanes. In the UK, the monkey puzzle became an archetypal Victorian park tree.

In Chile the tree is called the Pehuén and is sacred to the local Pehuenche people: its seeds are an ancient staple of their diet. The tree possibly gained its name because it would be a real puzzle for monkeys to climb up its whorls of spiny leaves, but there are no monkeys in Chile!

Monkey puzzle, Outdoor Gardens, Eden Project, 2020, From the collection of: Eden Project
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