Finding the Perfect Monkey Puzzle Tree for Your Yard

If you’re looking to add an unusual and distinctive tree to your landscape, a monkey puzzle tree is a great option. This evergreen tree has a very unique look with spiky leaves and textured bark. It truly lives up to its intriguing name!

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about buying a monkey puzzle tree for your yard. We’ll discuss:

  • Monkey puzzle tree facts and history
  • Benefits and challenges of growing monkey puzzle trees
  • Where to buy monkey puzzle trees
  • How much do monkey puzzle trees cost?
  • Selecting the best size and type of monkey puzzle tree
  • Monkey puzzle tree care tips
  • Inspiring photos of monkey puzzle trees in landscapes

A Bit of Monkey Puzzle Tree History

The monkey puzzle tree, also known by its botanical name of Araucaria araucana, is native to central and southern Chile and western Argentina. The Araucariaceae family of trees, including the monkey puzzle, have been around since the age of the dinosaurs!

The monkey puzzle gets its unusual common name from an observation made by Charles Austin in 1850. When seeing the spiky entangled leaves of the tree at an English estate he remarked that it would be very difficult for a monkey to climb. Hence, it became known as the monkey puzzle tree.

This evergreen conifer became quite popular as an ornamental landscape tree in England and other parts of Europe in the 1800s. Its distinctly untraditional appearance was a novelty at the time.

The monkey puzzle tree eventually made its way to North America and beyond, becoming naturalized in some temperate regions. However, it remains most abundant in its native habitat in Chile and Argentina.

Benefits of Monkey Puzzle Trees

There are many great reasons to consider planting a monkey puzzle tree in your yard:

  • Unique and architectural form – The monkey puzzle tree has an instantly recognizable look. Its thick upward-sweeping branches and spray of sharp pointed leaves create a very sculptural shape. The tree looks almost prehistoric and makes quite a statement in the landscape.

  • Evergreen foliage – Since it’s an evergreen tree, the monkey puzzle keeps its foliage year-round. So you get beautiful texture and color in your yard even during the winter months when other trees have dropped their leaves.

  • Slow growth to large size – A monkey puzzle tree grows at a slow to moderate pace. So while it may take some years to reach maturity, you’ll get to enjoy watching it gradually attain its full size of 60-90 feet tall and up to 30 feet wide.

  • Deer and pest resistant – The spiky leaves and mature bark deter deer from nibbling on the monkey puzzle tree. And it’s generally quite pest and disease resistant. Less maintenance for you!

  • Edible nuts – Monkey puzzle trees produce large pinecone-like structures containing edible nuts. The nuts have a flavor similar to pine nuts and can be roasted and eaten.

  • Ornamental interest – In addition to its unique evergreen leaves, the monkey puzzle also has reddish-brown bark that gets textured and fibrous with age. Large upright cones add ornamental interest too.

  • Long lifespan – Monkey puzzle trees are slow growing but very long living. Some monkey puzzle trees in their native range are over 1,000 years old! With proper care, you can enjoy your monkey puzzle for generations.

Challenges of Growing Monkey Puzzle Trees

While monkey puzzle trees have much to offer, they do come with some disadvantages and challenges to consider:

  • Slow growth when young – Monkey puzzle trees grow at an exceedingly slow pace when they’re young. It takes great patience to get them established.

  • Difficult to transplant – Due to their long taproot, monkey puzzle trees do not like to be transplanted and need to be planted in their permanent spot as young saplings.

  • Dislikes root disturbance – You need to take care not to disturb the roots when digging near an established monkey puzzle tree. Damaging the roots can kill the tree.

  • Requires large space – To accommodate its massive mature size, the monkey puzzle needs plenty of room to grow. Make sure you have an open spot at least 30 feet in diameter.

  • Sharp leaves hazardous to kids and pets – The stiff, pointed leaves of the monkey puzzle tree can poke small fingers and paws, so plant it thoughtfully.

  • Cold sensitivity when young – Monkey puzzle trees need protection from harsh winter weather when they’re still juveniles. Some shelter may be needed.

  • Slow recovery from damage – Due to its slow growth, the monkey puzzle is slow to recover from storm damage or improper pruning. Care must be taken.

While these drawbacks should be considered, none are reasons to completely avoid planting a monkey puzzle tree given proper siting and care.

Where to Buy Monkey Puzzle Trees

Monkey puzzle trees can be a little challenging to find at your average garden center. Here are some recommended sources to buy your own monkey puzzle:

  • Online nurseries – Online sellers like Fast Growing Trees have a great selection of container-grown monkey puzzle trees available for purchase and speedy delivery right to your door. Buying online allows you to get the exact size and variety you want.

  • Local independent nurseries – Some independent garden nurseries, especially those focused on uncommon plant offerings, may carry monkey puzzle trees. Check with your local nurseries to see what they have available.

  • Mail order catalogs – Reputable mail order nurseries like Burnt Ridge Nursery have monkey puzzle seeds and seedlings for sale. This allows you to start your monkey puzzle tree from the very beginning.

  • Specialty conifer nurseries – Nurseries that specialize in evergreens and conifers are a good bet for finding monkey puzzle trees. The selection may be small but they’ll likely have some.

No matter where you choose to buy, just be sure the nursery is reputable and the trees appear healthy. A little research goes a long way!

Monkey Puzzle Tree Prices

The cost of a monkey puzzle tree depends on a few factors:

  • Size and age – The younger and smaller the tree, the lower the price. A 1-year-old seedling may cost as little as $20. More mature trees 6-10 feet tall range from $100-300.

  • Container vs. bare root – Container-grown monkey puzzle trees are pricier but give the tree a better chance of survival. Bare root is cheaper but riskier.

  • Nursery’s overhead costs – Small independent nurseries tend to have lower overhead and can charge less. Big box stores charge more to cover higher costs.

  • Availability – Supply and demand impacts cost too. The rarer the tree, the more you can expect to pay.

To give you a better idea, here are some typical monkey puzzle tree prices:

  • 1-2 year seedling – $20-50
  • 3-4′ juvenile tree – $60-100
  • 6-10′ young tree – $150-300
  • 10-12′ mature tree – $250-400

For a fast-growing juvenile tree, expect to pay around $100-200. Mature trees 10 feet and up range from $300 on the low end to over $400 for very large specimens.

Selecting the Best Monkey Puzzle Tree

When choosing your monkey puzzle tree, here are some tips:

  • Consider your climate – Select a variety suitable for your USDA hardiness zone. Some cold hardy varieties exist for northern regions.

  • Choose the right size – Small 1-2′ seedlings are great if you’re patient and have years to wait. Or opt for a larger juvenile tree for more instant impact.

  • Look for healthy foliage – Avoid trees with yellowing, spotted, dried out, or excessive brown leaves. Rich green foliage is best.

  • Examine the trunk – Steer clear of any with significant scrapes, cracks, gouges, or oozing sap which indicate damage.

  • Check for heavy root ball – For container trees, heavier is better. It means a healthier, more established root system.

  • Buy in spring or fall – Spring and fall are ideal times for planting new monkey puzzle trees. Avoid summer’s heat or winter’s cold.

With thousands of years of evolutionary adaptions, the monkey puzzle tree is built to survive tough conditions. But giving your new tree the best start helps ensure its success in your landscape.

Caring for Your Monkey Puzzle Tree

To help your monkey puzzle thrive, follow these tips:

  • Plant in full sun – Monkey puzzle trees need a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun daily. Morning sun is ideal in hot climates.

  • Give it space – Allow an area up to 30 feet in diameter for your monkey puzzle to grow. Keep it away from houses, power lines, and other trees.

  • Water regularly – Frequent deep watering is key until established. Add 2-3 inches of mulch to retain moisture.

  • Avoid root disturbance – Take extreme care when digging or working around the tree’s extensive root system.

  • Provide winter protection – Wrap or drape young trees in burlap to shield from harsh winter winds and cold.

  • Fertilize lightly – Use a slow release granular fertilizer or monthly feedings of liquid fertilizer during spring and summer.

  • Repot container trees – If growing your monkey puzzle in a container, repot every 2-3 years in early spring before growth starts.

  • Prune carefully – Pruning is rarely needed. But if required, only trim back new light green shoots on mature branches.

With its prehistoric allure and architectural presence, the monkey puzzle tree makes a statement in any landscape. Follow these tips and your monkey puzzle will flourish for generations to come.

Inspiring Photos of Monkey Puzzle Trees

To spark some ideas of how you can use the monkey puzzle tree in your own landscape, here are some inspiring photos:

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Let these photos ignite your creativity for how to highlight the unique beauty of the monkey puzzle tree in your own yard. It will surely become a conversation piece and add intrigue to your outdoor space.

Find Your Perfect Monkey Puzzle Tree

The monkey puzzle tree is an uncommon evergreen specimen that makes a stunning addition to landscapes in need of something out of the ordinary. Now that you know what to look for and how to care for one, you can start searching for the perfect monkey puzzle tree for your home.

Check your local nurseries or buy online from reputable sellers like Fast Growing Trees to find a healthy monkey puzzle tree suited to your climate. Then let its prehistoric elegance and architectural presence transform your yard into a true conversation piece. Your monkey puzzle will be a distinctive treasure you’ll enjoy for many generations.

Monkey Puzzle Tree – Araucaria auracana – 5 Quart PotNew list:

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  • Zone 7a, Zone 7b, Zone 8a, Zone 8b, Zone 9a, Zone 9b, Zone 10a, Zone 10b
  • PLANT TYPE: Tree
  • FOLIAGE TYPE: Evergreen
  • SUNLIGHT : Full Sun (min 6 hours)
  • PLANT HEIGHT: 30 to 40
  • PLANT WIDTH: 15 to 20
  • SOIL MOISTURE: Moist But Well-Drained|Dry (when established)
  • Reviews Sorting Unique Plant This is a unique plant here in zone 7. It arrived timely and in excellent condition as does everything I order from Wilson Brothers. So far, I couldnt be happier. Hope it continues to thrive.————————————————————-Awesome tree! Thanks for the kind words and wonderful review! We are so glad you are pleased and we hope you enjoy it for years to come! 🙂 Beth Steele | WBG Did you find this helpful? Reviewed by:

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Can you grow a monkey puzzle tree in the US?

Can you grow a monkey puzzle tree in the United States? Monkey puzzle trees are not naturalized in the U.S., but they survive in the right environment. These trees are hardy in USDA zones 7-10 and can be found in gardens along the west coast, in the south, and in the southwest.

How fast do monkey puzzle trees grow?

Monkey Puzzle tree currently 3-4ft in height. A slow growing upright conifer with evergreen spirally arranged sharp pointed leaves. Growth rate is about 35cm per year. Eventual height approximately 20ft.

Are monkey puzzle trees valuable?

An intriguing and stately evergreen, with whorls of sharp leaves, they are very slow growing in their first few years and take a while to get going – which makes them a very expensive plant to propagate and sell.

Are monkey puzzle tree fruit edible?

The large seeds, produced in huge cones, are edible with a chestnut flavour. Timber is used for construction, furniture, masts etc. Dioecious (need male & female trees for nuts), hardy to -15°C.

What is a monkey puzzle tree?

Evergreen nut tree native to Chile, the Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana) evolved their sharp leaves over 100 million years ago to deter dinosaurs from browsing. With cross pollination, these trees produce huge cones filled with tasty and delicious seeds similar to pine nuts. Hardy to Zone 6 and grows well in the Pacific Northwest.

How tall does a monkey puzzle tree grow?

The Monkey Puzzle Tree is an exotic South American evergreen tree that will grow from the warmest parts of zone 6 to zone 10. It will grow in any soil that is well-drained and typically grows to around 50 feet tall in gardens, although in the wild it can reach 130 feet.

Where do monkey puzzle trees grow?

The Monkey Puzzle Tree ( Araucaria araucana) grows in the Andes Mountains in Chile and Argentina. There it is found in dense forests often at high altitude, which is why it is hardy down to minus 4 0 F. It was introduced into England in 1792, but it wasn’t until a second introduction in the 1840’s that it became a popular garden tree.

When do monkey puzzle trees come out?

Once your monkey tree is old enough, its fruits will emerge in mid to late summer. Many people feel drawn to monkey puzzle trees because of their distinct appearance. What they often fail to recognize is that these trees can grow to be very large. At maturity, they may be more than one hundred feet tall.

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