Sunday, April 1, 2018

National Tree of Chile

Image result for monkey puzzle tree

Environmental and Science Education
Edward Hessler

Botany Photo of the Day (BPOD) is a site I look at almost daily even though the images don't change that frequently.  It always includes more than the photo. There is a description by someone knowledgeable about the plant. In addition, the comments in response to the photograph are often informative.

Here is a photo, a close-up of the shoot apex of the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana). This tree has a narrow range (Chile and Argentina) and it is also in a steady decline due to none other than, you guessed it, us--fire, overgrazing, logging and habitat degradation. These are known as anthropogenic factors. Logging in natural habitat is now strictly prohibited.

It was interesting to learn how this tree was introduced to western cultivation. According to Daniel Mosquin who wrote the notes for this entry it was in 1795 "when botanist Archibald Menzies was served seeds of Araucaria araucana while dining in Chile with their governor, he hid some of these away. (Botanists are always botanizing!). The seeds were then transported to England, where five resulting plants survived and grew. The reverse of the saying 'earth to table,'  monkey puzzle trees made their way from that dining table to become popular ornamentals on wealthy estates in the UK (and subsequently throughout the world)." I added the material in the first parens.

It is a lovely, lovely tree with beautiful foliage.

May it live its natural span on Earth.

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