Araucaria araucana, commonly known as the Monkey puzzle tree or Chilean pine, is an evergreen tree native to the Andes Mountains of central and southern Chile and western Argentina. It is an ancient species that has been in existence for over 200 million years.
The tree is known for its distinctive, dense, and symmetrical cone-shaped crown, which can reach a height of up to 50 meters (160 feet) and a trunk diameter of 2 meters (6.6 feet). The bark is thick, grayish-brown, and rough.
The leaves of Araucaria araucana are evergreen and can be up to 8 cm (3.1 inches) long. They are arranged in whorls of 15 to 25 and have a triangular shape with a pointed tip. The tree is dioecious, meaning it has separate male and female cones on different trees.
The cones of the Araucaria araucana are also distinctive and can be up to 25 cm (9.8 inches) long and weigh up to 3 kg (6.6 pounds). The female cones take about two years to mature, and the seeds inside are edible, with a nutty flavor.
Araucaria araucana is a slow-growing tree and can live for hundreds of years. It is a culturally significant species for the indigenous Mapuche people of Chile, who traditionally use the wood for construction and carving and consider the tree sacred.
The tree is also an important ornamental and timber species worldwide, but its natural habitat is threatened by deforestation, fires, and overexploitation. Therefore, it is considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).