Monkey puzzle tree, Kew Gardens, London
The common name of this tree, monkey puzzle, has probably added to the tree’s fame and the fondness that people have for it.
It is the national tree of Chile, and was discovered by a Spanish explorer in around 1780. In 1795 an English traveller who liked to gather unusual plants brought it home with him. Someone marvelling at the monkey puzzles growing over here, remarked that climbing it would puzzle even a monkey. And hence its name.
It is certainly a puzzling structure and one that I’m very glad to find in Kew Gardens. The tree I’ve featured here was planted in 1978 so it’s quite a youngster. In temperate rainforest, barring intervention by us humans, the monkey puzzles will live beyond their 1000th birthday. Thankfully, Kew is working to conserve this tree by growing more at both their Kew and Wakehurst gardens. They gathered seeds in southern Chile in 2009, and many of these are now flourishing.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 12 January 2021
Posted as part of Tuesday Photo Challenge