Monday, January 21, 2013

Living With The Land: Monkey Puzzle Tree

   Sometime in the recent future, as far as I can tell, a recent addition has made its way into the Living With The Land attraction at Epcot.  Hopefully this one wont be as a giant disappointment like the fluted pumpkin.

   Araucaria araucana, commonly known as the monkey puzzle tree, is native to Chile.  This unique tree has been around for over 200 million years, and is hardy indeed.  Related to modern pine trees, the monkey puzzle tree can grow over 130 feet tall and live for over 1,000 years. 
   The inclusion of the tree at Living With The Land is not merely decorative. (i'm looking at you, fluted pumpkin!)  The plants produce seeds similar to pine nuts, only much bigger.  These seeds have been harvested by Chile's native Mapuche tribe, to which the tree is sacred. 

   Thick, scale like leaves cover the outer branches and are incredibly sharp...hence the name. (get it, a monkey is puzzled by how to climb it!)  As the tree matures the lower branches drop creating a truly remarkable and primeval look to it. 

   In addition to Living With The Land monkey puzzle trees are also found in the gorgeous landscaping at the Japan pavilion around World Showcase. 
   Have you ever noticed this plant hanging out in Living With The Land?

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