The Monkey’s Puzzle

Back in 2010, Plant Delights made a limited offering of a hybrid monkey puzzle tree…a cross of Araucaria araucana x angustifolia, which we hoped would have the hardiness of A. araucana and the moisture tolerance of A. angustifolia. Well, a decade later, here is the result…exactly what we’ve hoped for. Our tree is now about 45′ tall.

Sadly, no seed has ever been available again, but our tree is finally coning, as is its sister, growing at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Fingers crossed that we get seed set and can off this gem again.

6 thoughts on “The Monkey’s Puzzle

  1. So beautiful!
    I have tried many times to grow the araucaria araucana here in Atlanta — never with success. Should I give up? Any secrets to survival (while waiting for a hybrid option)???
    Thanks!

    • It’s only real nemesis of Araucaria araucana is rain in the summer. It has a high respiration rate and when soil pore spaces fill water instead of air, even for a short time in summer, the plant drowns. I have had a 7′ tall plant go from healthy to dead in 1 hour of rain. The only time I had success was when I planted one under a wide roof overhang, where it thrived until it outgrew the space. It is possible to plant one amongst other large shrubs, which prevent the soil from ever becoming wet, while allowing the plant to get enough full sun.

      • If the problem is root respiration being high, see if a graft on a root stock of a species that grow well in your area would work.
        If no good vertical leaders are available, try a strong lateral. Being in a vertical orientation may allow a gradual transition to a vertical leader. In any case, just needs several attempts.
        Being from the higher elevations of the Southern Andes, high temps like in the US South may be contraindicated, most importantly the warm nights.
        Try one higher up in the Appalachians esp if nights get below 15°C or so. (Into pref mid to low 50°’sF).
        For you plant physiologists out there, do a temp curve measurement of photosynthesis and dark respiration maybe over a wide range of temps. Hopefully you can plot the lower and upper compensation points (where photosynthes rate equals respiration rate- CO2 fixing equals CO2 production).
        I worked in Harold A Mooney’s lab at UCLA in the 1960’s) Check autecology of Oxyria digyna and other alpine plants.

        • Excellent idea if there was a potential root stock. The only problem is that while A. angustifolia would tolerate our rains, but isn’t winter hardy enough. A. araucana is plenty hardy, but doesn’t handle the soil moisture. You are exactly right that the difference between daytime and night time temperatures also have a significant effect on the survival of plants from areas like Chile, and other regions with significant variation between night and day temps.

  2. That tree looks for all the world like the aging Cryptomeria Japonica ‘Yoshinos’ that I’m used to seeing in central New Jersey. Or am I seeing things?

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