More Information About Araucaria
The genus Araucaria has 19 species native to New Caledonia (13 endemic species), Australia, Norfolk Island, New Guinea, and southern South America. This is an ancient genus , with fossils going back 200 million years...a true living fossil. Araucaria forests in South America are often used as locations for movies and documentaries about dinosaurs. Most people are familiar with one species in particular, Araucaria heterophylla, the Norfolk Island Pine, which is a popular house plant. Another species, Araucaria araucana, the monkey puzzle tree, is the most cold hardy species and can be grown in the US. Araucaria species are evergreen conifers (gymnosperms) that in the wild are large trees, well over 100' tall. Some species, including Araucaria araucana, produce edible seeds called pinones, but you need both a female and a male tree to get seeds.
In the garden, Araucaria araucana prefers cool humid weather, mild winters, full sun and a deep, well-drained soil. Araucaria dislikes dry soils so provide consistent moisture. It makes a good landscape tree for the coast. Araucaria grows slowly at first, but will eventually grow about 1' per year. In its juvenile phase, the branches cover the whole tree (like a Christmas tree), but as it matures it drops the lower branches and takes on an umbrella shape.