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Araucaria araucana: Monkey Puzzle Tree1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson 2


Monkey puzzle tree is a large, bizarre evergreen, 60 to 70 feet tall and 30 to 35 feet wide, which forms a loose, see-through, pyramidal shape with a straight trunk. The tree is so open in habit you could almost look at it and not see it. The leaves are dark green, stiff, with sharp needles densely arranged on horizontal, irregular, upwardly sweeping branches. Monkey puzzle tree makes an attractive, novelty specimen for a large, open yard or commercial landscape. It is normally planted only as an oddity someplace in the rear of a landscape out of view from most passers-by but could be the specimen feature in a large oriental landscape.

Figure 1. Mature Araucaria araucana: Monkey puzzle tree
Figure 1.  Mature Araucaria araucana: Monkey puzzle tree
Credit: Ed Gilman

General Information

Scientific name: Araucaria araucana
Pronunciation: air-ah-KAIR-ee-uh air-ah-KAY-nuh
Common name(s): Monkey puzzle tree
Family: Araucariaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 7B through 11 (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: indoors; specimen
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range


Height: 60 to 70 feet
Spread: 30 to 35 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: pyramidal
Crown density: open
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: coarse


Leaf arrangement: spiral (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: ovate, lanceolate
Leaf venation: parallel
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen, needled evergreen
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Foliage
Figure 3.  Foliage


Flower color: unknown
Flower characteristics: not showy


Fruit shape: oval, cone
Fruit length: 3 to 6 inches, 6 to 12 inches
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown, tan
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: little required
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: green, brown
Current year twig thickness: medium, thick
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; alkaline; well-drained
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: unknown


Roots: can form large surface roots
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Monkey puzzle tree should be grown in full sun on well-drained soil and receive regular waterings. It tolerates some drought and will grow well in clay soil.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern. Scales, sooty mold, leaf spots.


1. This document is ENH240, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH240

Release Date:May 7, 2014

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