July 15, 2024
Monkey Puzzle Tree

During the film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, the ghost of a 19th century Sea Captain becomes enraged when he learns that the occupant of his former house intends to cut down “the mast of my ship.” The tree was a Chilean Pine, which has a tall straight trunk when mature, and the trunk is suitable for use as a mast of a tall sailing ship. During the 19th century, a time known as the age of sail, ship captains often brought home living things (plants and animals) as symbols of their participation in adventure and discovery during their sea voyage to a foreign land.

Although it takes a long time to grow, the pinone (seed) of the tree might produce a centerpiece in a Victorian garden. At one such garden in England, during the mid 1800’s, a guest remarked that the tree’s prickly leaves “would puzzle a monkey.” Thus named, the native tree of Chile and Argentina intrigues people who hear about the Monkey Puzzle Tree, and they want to learn more about it. The tree was listed as endangered in the 21st century, partly because its trunk is still useful and because its wood supports other industrial purposes. The seeds are edible, by mice and men, which contributes to its decline in numbers. Although, mice that bury the seeds and forget where they bury them support the survival of the species.

Individual Monkey Puzzle Trees have been found that still live longer than one thousand years. Oddly, the tree will grow in most any properly drained soil, which means that you might find one most anywhere in the world. This fact is a marked departure from the usual, which is that plants will grow best (outside of their natural location) worldwide along the latitude of that location.