The Araucaria (Araucarias) is a genus of trees mostly native to the Southern Hemisphere and including only 19 species. Four of these species have become popular ornamental plantings here in the United States (mostly in warm Southern portions of the Eastern Seaboard, and along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains). The four species that are found here in the US are Monkey Puzzle - Araucaria araucana (Molina), Cook Pine - Araucaria columnaris, Norfolk Island Pine - Araucaria heterophylla and Bunya Pine - Araucaria bidwillii. The Araucaria is one of three genera that make up the larger Araucariaceae family.
Monday, August 7, 2023
Araucaria (Monkey Puzzle, Cook Pine, Norfolk Island Pine and Bunya Pine)
Bunya Pine - Image Citation: Dennis Haugen, Bugwood.org
Norfolk Island Pine - Thomas Smiley, Bartlett Tree Experts, Bugwood.org
All of the trees making up the Araucaria genus are tall evergreens with single straight trunks covered in rough dark gray-brown bark that is horizontally ridged. The trunks are generally covered in uniform whorls of branches that emerge at almost perfect right angles. The branches are covered in very dense or tight triangular or needle shaped evergreen leaves. The evergreen leaves are multi-veined and arranged spirally on each twig, branch and sometimes even on the trunk itself. Pollen Cones are large, one of the largest of any conifer. Seed Cones are dense and heavy, quickly disintegrating before or soon after falling. The inner seeds from the seed cone are considered a tasty treat to many varieties of native wildlife.