Information About Monkey Puzzle Plants

Get Started

Monkey Puzzle Tree Info: Tips For Growing A Monkey Puzzle Outdoors

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Monkey puzzle trees in the landscape are a unique and bizarre addition, with towering height and unusual arching stems. Warm to temperate region gardeners who want a big statement and a strange focal point plant should try growing a monkey puzzle outdoors. Learn more here.

Monkey Puzzle Indoors: How To Grow A Monkey Puzzle Houseplant

By Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

If you're looking for something different to grow as a houseplant or an outdoor container plant, consider the monkey puzzle tree. What is a monkey puzzle tree? Read here to find out more.

How to Grow Araucaria araucana Plants in your Garden

Araucaria Araucana is a tree that does not like to take a backseat to any other. Even its nickname "Monkey Puzzle tree" screams for attention.

A member plant of the genus Araucaria, this unique conifer is endangered in its native Chile and Argentina, but is a favored ornamental in U.S. and European arboreta collections and botanical gardens.

The Monkey Puzzle tree is recognized by its tough and spiky, triangular-shaped leaves.

Araucaria araucana (commonly called the monkey puzzle tree, monkey tail tree, Chilean pine, or pehu_n) photograph by Martin Cooper.

As the tree ages, it loses its lower branches while those above develop an umbrella-like appearance.

Its gray bark with wrinkled, horizontal folds, suggestive of an elephant's hide, only adds to the tree's exoticism.

Most Monkey Puzzle trees are dioecious, meaning that male and female cones appear on separate trees.

The females have pineapple-shaped cones, while the males are egg-shaped and erect. Each male cone produces about 120 to 200 seeds. The trees are wind-pollinated.

How to Plant a Monkey Tree

Related Articles

A monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) is an unusual coniferous evergreen that grows to 30 feet tall. Young trees have branches at low levels and are cone-shaped. As the tree grows, it loses the lower branches and creates a rounded top crown. Female cones are about 6 inches long and ripen slowly, in two to three years. Monkey puzzle trees grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10 in full sun to partial shade. This tree is tolerant of salt and coastal winds and makes a good specimen tree.

Put on leather gloves to protect your hands from the sharply pointed triangular leaves of the monkey puzzle tree.

Dig a planting hole with a shovel that is about twice the container size of the tree and the same depth as the container.

Cut the tree's plastic container with a utility knife on four sides. Set the container on its side on the ground and tap on it with the palm of one hand. Gently pull the container off the tree roots. Cut ropes on a burlap-wrapped tree with a utility knife and remove the burlap covering.

Place the tree in the center of the planting hole. Work the roots loose from each other with your fingers, if they are root bound. Spread the roots out in the hole.

Replace soil into the hole with a shovel up to the same depth as the tree was in the container or in the burlap packaging.

Create a watering basin about twice the circumference of the planting hole and about 3 inches deep. Add garden soil to the original soil if you don't have enough to form the ring. Fill the watering basin with about 2 inches of mulch to retain moisture for good growth.

Turn a garden hose on a low flow setting. Fill the watering basin with water slowly and allow it to drain. Keep the tree evenly moist to a depth of about 1 inch throughout the first growing season.

Plant Care Information

Top Tips

Best grown in full sun in well-drained but moist soil.

Fertilise anually with a slow-relese fertiliser and mulch with organic matter in the autumn.

Care Information

Planting Advice for your Monkey Puzzle Tree:

  • Select an appropriate spot with enough space to allow your tree to grow.
  • Position in a sheltered area, protected from cold, drying winds.
  • Dig a hole twice the width of the roots, forking over the bottom to loosen the soil, then add some good quality fertiliser, compost or well-rotted manure. We've found that a square hole is better than a round one as the new roots, once they reach the edges tend to grow in a circle round the circumference of the hole whereas when they reach the corners of a square hole, they find it easier to grow through.
  • Plant at the same depth as the tree was in its pot.
  • Holding the tree upright in position with one hand, slowly backfill the hole with soil, so the soil falls back around the roots. Firm the soil around the plant with your heel to ensure good contact around the roots.
  • Plants establish quicker when Mycorrhizal granules are added to the roots when planting.
  • Mulch around the base of the plant with a collar, compost, gravel, bark etc.
  • Water the plants at least weekly – especially in dry weather – for the first 8 weeks.

Aftercare Advice for Araucaria Monkey Puzzle:

  • Keep plants well-watered, especially while they are establishing.
  • Apply a general-purpose fertiliser twice a year in spring and summer

Pruning Advice for your Monkey Puzzle Araucaria:

  • There is no real need to prune trees. If absolutely necessary, damaged or dead branches can be removed from young trees. Established trees will not regrow branches.

Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana) Care

I have a monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) that I purchased about 6 mos. ago with the intentions of using as houseplant year round. I live in St. Louis, MO and have a friend here that keeps his indoors as well, and although much more mature, its healthy and looks unbelievable never spending a day of the year outdoors. Mine, while young and only a foot tall is starting to look as if its dying. The leaves were growing indoors this spring but now they are drooping and seem to be hardening to the point that I could just snap them off. I have moved the plant to a few different locations in the house for lighting and water and fertilize in accordance with all the care tips I have read online. The only reason that I have not put this tree outside is b/c I have read that it does not like temperate climates and extreme heat- which is what St. Louis is- very hot and humid in the summer but temps. can bounce all over the place. Also, the tree is not hardy here during colder months. Would it be beneficial to put this outdoors during the growing season or am I going to do it more harm. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Can you post a picture? In the meantime I'd check your watering, that is one of the most common problems with houseplants. Try sticking your finger down a couple inches into the soil and see how it feels--if it's really wet or really dry then that's probably your issue. Since your friend seems to be having luck with theirs, it wouldn't hurt to check with them on what sort of lighting they have for theirs and make sure you've got similar conditions.

As far as going outside--there are some around here growing outdoors and it gets pretty hot (100+) sometimes in the summer so they can handle dry heat--not sure about humidity though. I wouldn't even think about moving it outdoors though until you figure out what's wrong with it and let it recover--changing its conditions drastically like that on top of whatever's already stressing it will not be good for it.

Also make sure your tree is not in line with your a/c vents. The cold air coming out of the vent is very dry and hard on plants. Also try to duplicate the light it received when you got it. Moving plants from location to location is hard on them, and they often respond by leaf dieback or drop. It is hard for the tree to acclimate itself to conditions if you keep changing them. Ecrane's advice on talking to your friend is excellent. You have ready access to someone who is successfully growing the same plant.

I would think it is your growing (indoor conditions that are giving you the problems, and from what has been mentioned earlier, it could be a number of reasons, I have one growing out in the garden, (extremely slow growing till the reach about 15 - 20 years old,
I do know they like a well drained soil and do tolerate very low temps as the same with heat in summer, when you feel ready to put outside, you could choose a more shaded area away from extreme sun, but for now, I would gently knock it out the pot and have a look at the root system, once you are sure there is nothing wrong with the soil or roots, you can then start to investigate the top growth for things like air conditions and light ect, but also as Ecrane said, look for over watering too, you should be able to tell if the soil is too wet or dry when you knock the tree /sapling out from the pot, by the size of your plant, being only a foot tall, means it is still very much a baby, means that it will be less tolerant to continuous change, maybe it has not got a good root system yet, so check all of these things, I know for the first few years, my tree lost a few lower branches before it started to grow a new leader tip, but mine is growing outdoors and is in well drained soil with leaf-mould mixed and added each autumn, after about 14 years it is only just reaching
2 1/2 feet, so it is very slow, like you, for the first few years I thought it was dying or a lost cause and it came good in the end. Hope all the comments help you out as they are lovely trees, and where they grow to their full hight of 40 - 60 ft, they really are majestic,
they originate from Chile and Argentina, so maybe that will give you an idea of temps they tolerate. best of luck. WeeNel.

I have a seedling maybe a inch and a half tall I have it in a 4 inch pot in my unheated entry way the sun comes through the window in the late afternoon so plant gets bright indirect sunlight. I water it once the soil dries out then I thoroughly water it I gonna attempt to move it outdoors first day of spring and eventually move it into full sun. I hope it dose well outdoors like all my other plants do.

Araucaria Species, Bunya Pine, Bunya Tree, False Monkey Puzzle Tree


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers


Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

This Plant is Least Concern (LC)

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

North Hollywood, California

Altamonte Springs, Florida

Gardeners' Notes:

On Sep 20, 2020, Cocobalanga from Viviers,
France (Zone 8a) wrote:

I grow 2 in my garden, one is 10 years old and is three meters high (it grows slowly because it is at a dry place and the second one is young 4 years old. Some harsh winter with 16°F and no worries

On Mar 10, 2019, dfrost from Rincon, GA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Grew one from seed. Now in the front yard in Rincon, GA (near Savannah) and doing well, through one hard winter (with about 6 inches of snow) and the most recent very mild one.

On May 5, 2018, Rocky3g from Tampa, FL wrote:

I am in Tampa, Florida and recently purchased a home that was built in 1925. Thanks to this site I FINALLY found a name for the tree in our front yard it is huge! We live in the city but I am sure this was planted years ago when it was mostly farmlands. Actually, I would love to know how old it is. The only downside is that I do have to clean my yard several times a week with heavy gloves because the spines are quite dangerous. I believe all of the male cones have fallen for the season but they do cause a lot of pollen and it appears there are some female cones still fairly high in the tree awaiting maturity. I’d like to know if anyone has ever trimmed their tree or just allow it to grow naturally?

On Oct 28, 2016, naturegirl1999 from Montpelier, ID wrote:

I like collecting cones and I would love to have a few big cones from the Bunya pine tree, If any one can let me know where I can find them I would really appreciate it.

On Aug 27, 2013, kmellaby from Brisbane,
Australia wrote:

This is a beautiful, ancient and sacred tree. It is indigenous to my bio-region, and loved as a brother by many people. Looking at silhouettes of the trees emerging out of the canopy gives a feeling of content.
The large cones occur roughly every three years. This is a festival time in my part of the world. The nuts are nutritious and it is a privilege to eat them. They are designed to be shared.
As the harvest only occurs every few years, it is no trouble to either harvest the cones before they fall (rent a cherry picker, or bribe a rock climbing/abseiling friend) or simply cordon off the area and let the cones fall. It's no more trouble than regular pruning required by other trees.
If you wanted a coconut tree you'd be sensible about where it was planted and cauti. read more ous while it fruited, same common sense applies here.

On Mar 13, 2013, guygee from Satellite Beach, FL wrote:

These trees are much better suited for the heat and humidity of Central Florida than Araucaria augustifolia in my experience. The Bunya pine is easy to propagate from seed for anyone with enough patience to wait for the cryptogeal germination process. I found that the key to more rapid propagation was to plant the seeds near the surface so that the cotyledonary tube that grows downward into the soil can be observed. When this tube is seen to rot off of the end of the seed, then the underground tuber can be retrieved by carefully sifting the soil and replanted near the surface to speed growth into a seedling tree.

Obviously since the adult plants will have very large cones the trees should not be planted where they may overhang buildings or traffic areas. Otherwise the fear. read more of the falling cones seems silly compared to the dangers of driving or even getting struck by lightning. Indeed, I cannot find anywhere the report of even one serious injury much less a fatality caused by falling cones of this species (See Ghazal v Vella [2011] NSWLEC 1105).

It is said that the aboriginal peoples of Australia would set aside their differences and come together to feast on the pine nuts of this species in heavy-bearing years. People coming together peacefully to harvest food gets a positive response from me every time.

On Jun 17, 2012, Bunyabunyabewar from Hermosa Beach, CA wrote:

My father's neighbor has this bunya bunya tree (Araucaria bidwillii, the bunya pine) in their front yard. This tree is very dangerous and is not suitable for a neighborhood. The cones that fall off of this tree every few years are huge and heavy. I was working on my car in his driveway a few years back and almost got hit by one of these falling cones. Since they grow near the top, they are hard to see because the tree is so tall. This tree is at least 50 years old. When the leaves fall they are hard and sharp and it is best to wear gloves when handling them for disposal. These trees would be better off away from civilization. This tree also has these white scale insects and white spots all over the leaves. It is an UGLY DANGEROUS TREE!

On Mar 7, 2012, floramakros from Sacramento Valley, CA wrote:

Probably the least suitable Araucaria for the home garden, stick to viewing this unusual species in botanical gardens, parks etc. It's beautiful from afar, but the gigantic cones and razor sharp needles make any close contact potentially dangerous. The one good thing I can say is if you put one in your yard and you also have a chronic problem with cats using your garden for their litterbox as a friend of mine did, just one contact with this tree either by crawling under the needles or walking on a fallen branch will guarantee they'll never set foot in your yard again!

On Jun 26, 2011, digitalbeachbum from Longwood, FL wrote:

I grew up thinking this was a true monkey puzzle tree because the previous owners of the house were told that was the name. The original owner of the property was the president of an Orlando based plant and tree society and had brought back the seeds from Australia.

The tree at my parent's house is roughly 40m tall. It last dropped pods (the size of bowling balls) in the Fall of 2005. I collected over 42 seed pods with an average of 75 seeds per pod.

I have BBQ'd, boiled, baked the seeds. I also have used them to create a paste and have used them for pancakes, breads and other dishes.

They are highly nutritious and very healthy seeds and are like a breadnut. 40% of the seed is made up of water, but they are high in (40%) complex carbohydrates a. read more nd (9%) protein.

The wood is highly valued for furniture and other products.

I highly recommend never planting this tree near the house or areas of parking or playing. They deserve an open area away from other trees.

On Jul 23, 2010, JoRoGo from Rockledge, FM (Zone 9a) wrote:

I live in East Central Florida in an area known as the "Space Coast" because of its proximity to Cape Canaveral. Specifically, I live in a town called Rockledge. At the end of my street is the Indian River, and the Atlantic Ocean (at Cocoa Beach) is about 10 miles away. Lots of water! Very high humidity!

I've rented this home for 7 years. The False Monkey Puzzle Tree was planted by the former tenants. This year (2010) is the first that the tree has produced seed pods. BIG seed pods! HEAVY seed pods! So far, 5 seed pods have dropped from the tree. Three have remained in the yard two have rolled into the street. One took out a very large branch of the FMPT when it fell. I have yet to see (or hear) any pod fall from the tree. I just check the yard throughout the d. read more ay to see whether or not another has arrived.

Due to the height of the tree -- and that it was erroneously planted between a Palm tree and Chinese Tallow tree -- it is very difficult to see if other pods remain in the FMPT. As it happens, because it is sufficiently windy today and the branches of the FMPT are moving, by using binoculars, I was able to determine that there *are* more pods in the tree. And there is something else in the tree -- something that is BIGGER than any of the pods, and with MUCH LARGER and MORE DANGEROUS spikes than appear on any pod. An arborist told me a few years ago that the FMPT will produce a fruit weighing approx. 40 lbs. I've no way of knowing whether what I saw is (or isn't) a fruit. What I *do* know, though, is that I will be calling an arborist and asking that he bring with him a very, very long telescoping ladder in order to determine what in the world is going on at the top of the FMPT. Maybe then I'll know when I can remove the "Caution" sign that warns people in the neighborhood not to walk, or park their cars, under the FMPT.

Lest I forget . . . yes, the "leaves" (or needles) of the FMPT are constantly falling from the tree, and they are VERY dangerous. You must wear leather gloves to pick up the leaves, whether the leaves are green (newly-fallen) or brown (dead).

Yes, I would agree that the FMPT is a VERY UNIQUE tree, but it should *only be planted* in an open area that does not get a lot of foot traffic from humans or animals.

I hope this helps someone deciding whether -- or where -- to plant a False Monkey Puzzle Tree.

On Sep 21, 2008, swamptreenelly from Newark, CA wrote:

One of the most beautiful pioneer conifers in our area. The canopy against the sky is very magical. The spines and cones need to drop where people do not dwell, away from cars and buildings and picnic sites. Growing them from seed reminds me how prehistoric they really are. An imblical like stem grows from the seed to the ground. The imblical like stem falls off and the tree emerges from a tuber like root. We have about 50 growing, My friend wants to plant a bunya bunya forest. Maybe the largest one in north america. I beleive there is a petrified forest of bunya bunyas in Arizona.

On Apr 3, 2006, jljohnston from Modesto, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

In Modesto, California there is a Bunya Bunya in one of the city's oldest parks (Graceada) that was planted in 1916 to commemorate a meeting of "The Sons of The Golden West." It is 110' tall to prevent injuries to park visitors, a large border of Pittosporum was arranged around it's base. There are other examples of this species around the city, which claims to be "The City of Trees."

On Jun 1, 2004, joannes from Kissimmee, FL wrote:

The largest of the 3 Bunya-Bunya trees in our neighborhood is far taller than any other tree within view. It draws a lot of attention for its enormous size, its graceful, dark green, upsweeping branches, its intensely green and symmetrical new groth, and its extremely hard and sharp leaves on long twigs. Stunningly beautiful, the Bunya-Bunya tree deserves a place a honor--far from homes and people--where it can be appreciated from a distance!

The Bunya-Bunya tree, whose leaves are acuminate at the tip and narrow at the base, differs from the Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana), whose leaves are acuminate at the tip, BROAD at the base, and overlapping.

On Apr 5, 2004, insydney from sydney,
Australia wrote:

The 'Bunyabunya' was a popular colonial plant in australia, particularly effective for marking the location of a homestead or boundary because of its distinctive silhouette. It is a native of northern NSW / southern Queensland. Like the monkeypuzzle it was also used for lining avenues, with the obvious disastrous results. Every 4 to 7 years the tree produces massive cones - up to 8 kilos or more. These form at the very top, and can crash down with no warning. (I was nearly taken out by one a few years back!) This heavy cropping - smaller cones are produced in other years - heralded a time of feasting for local aboriginal tribes. The nuts - 40 or more per cone - are edible, raw, roasted or ground. Cones are produced when the tree is older, say from 20 years. When mature the tree has its . read more unnusual 'mushroom' shape. Leaves are very sharp. Seeds grow easily remove from husks and lay on soil - any which way, they're not fussy. Because of their lethal reputation are now rare in Australian gardens / parks.

This tree is dangerous, the needles can draw blood and the seed pods have been known to rip holes in cars after crashing down. Not recommended for any place where children or pets might be. The seeds are tasty though if you can get them out of the seed pod.

On Aug 1, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Since most of us in So Cal can't grow True Monkey Puzzle trees (too hot here), we settle for this one if we want a unique conifer with bizzare spiny 'leaves'. This tree is truly massive, though and gets up to near 100'. Though it is an impressive sight, it is also a bit dangerous as the cones can weigh over a pound and easily kill you after falling 100'. In So Cal this is a relatively slow growing tree for the first 3-5 years of its life, and then it does quite well.

Watch the video: Monkey Puzzle Tree seedlings update and potting on

Previous Article

Sprouting Avocado Pits: How To Root An Avocado Seed

Next Article

When to plant tomatoes in a greenhouse in Siberia and what can be planted together