Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English:Monkey puzzle, Chile pine.

+ Tree Species

Araucaria araucana

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

Monkey puzzle is native to south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina. Araucaria araucana is a popular garden tree, planted for its unusual effect of the thick, "reptilian" branches with a very symmetrical appearance. It prefers temperate climates with abundant rainfall, tolerating temperatures down to about −4°F (−20°C).  Its ecology is disturbance-driven, mainly by the effect of volcanoes, fire, landslides, snow avalanches and wind.It grows best in areas with deep well-drained soil and dislikes hot dry soils as well as atmospheric pollution. In Uganda it's usually grown as an ornamental tree in public parks and even compounds. In Kampala, Monkey puzzle can be found within Makerere university, Kitante courts, Nyonyi gardens, at Coral crescent, Dundas road, Yusuf Lule among other places.

+ Description

An evergreen, pyramid-shaped tree, that grows up to 50 m high with a trunk circumference of up to 2.5 m. The tree's most distinguishing feature is its leaves. The horizontal branches are produced in tiers and have few side branches. Mature plants may bear cones on the upper branches, male and female usually on separate trees.

BARK: grey-brown, resinous, and smooth, marked by rings made by old branch scars. Branches horizontal, in whorls of five, in opposite pairs, lateral branches horizontal or slightly pendant. 

LEAVES: stiff, dark green and glossy with a spiny tip and completely cover each branch, closely overlapping each other.


FRUITS: female cone is globular, dark brown, maturing in 2-3 years and up to 20 cm in diameter, falling off at maturity, scales with a long triangular recurved point. The male cone is solitary or in groups, erect, yellowish-brown cylindrical and up to 15 cm long, with 20 whorled scales; microsporophylls acute, recurved. Seeds are bright brown to orangish, triangular, 2.5-4 cm. long by 0.7-1.5 cm. wide, with a long narrow nut, with 2 small even wings at the top, margins denticulate at the apex".

+ Uses

Provides timber which is used for lumber, flooring, paper pulp and ship-masts.

Edible: seeds are boiled or roasted, dried seeds are made into a flour which is used to make a fermented beverage (muday).

Agroforestry:seeds are also fed to livestock, used in restoration areas, can be grown as part of a shelterbelt.

An ornamental tree.

Medicine: resin. http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/a/araucaria-araucana=monkey-puzzle-tree.php

Source of fuelwood.

+ Propagation

Seeds, cuttings.

+ Management

The monkey puzzle is a very slow growing tree that can take 5 - 10 years before it even gets above grass height and then grows around 35cm a year.Coppicing.

+ Remarks

In Uganda, monkey puzzle is one of those widely used ornamental trees grown in private compounds and sometimes leisure parks. timber and seeds. It is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria. The monkey puzzle is well-adapted to fire, volcanic activity having long caused wildfires in its natural habitat, so this is not a threat under natural circumstances. However, fires resulting from human activities (especially agricultural clearances) cause severe damage to remaining populations of the tree. The rigid spines on the trunk and leaf tips are potentially hazardous.

Development partners