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The Chile Pine

UK Garden Centre - Chile Pine information

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Family Pinaceae
Araucaria araucana

The Chile Pine, or “Monkey Puzzle”, is a native of Southern Chile. It forms extensive pine forests in the province or Arauco, from which it gets its name, and to whose inhabitants the seeds are a most important item of their food supply. Not only do the trees in these forests lose their lower branches, but even those growing in the open plains of their native country have similarly bare trunks for nearly half their height. It is therefore a satisfaction to know that the finest specimens grown in this country have really surpassed those grown in their native home.
The height reached by old trees is from eighty to one hundred feet, with a trunk girth of from sixteen to twenty-three feet. The tapering of this trunk is very slight, and a few of the stiff, spine-tipped leaves, with which its younger extremity is densely clothed, still remain attached in a dried-up condition far down the column. These leaves will have been observed to cover the branches entirely, not being restricted, as in most trees, to the newly formed branchlets and twigs. They are very hard and endure for about fifteen years; are about an inch and a quarter long, and overlap, though their sharp-pointed ends turn away from the branch.
The cylindrical male flowers are four or five inches long, borne singly or in small clusters. The sexes are usually on separate trees, but some individuals produce flowers of both kinds. The female flowers are about four inches long, almost round in shape, but broader at the base than above. They are covered with long, narrow, overlapping scales, beneath which are found the seeds when the flower has developed into the brown cone, which is six inches in diameter. The scales are then easily detached; in fact, when the seeds are ripe, the cone falls to pieces. The winged seed is about an inch and a half long, enclosed in a hard thin shell.
The Chile Pine does not succeed in this country unless it is given pure air, sunshine, abundant moisture, and well-drained subsoil. It will grow to a very handsome tree if these conditions are observed.


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