Monkey puzzles in Norway

Back in the pre-Facebook days, I remember there was a forum for unusual nut trees and the Norwegian monkey puzzle trees were considered to be the most hardy and I remember receiving a lot of requests from folk wanting seed from our provenience. I had to disappoint them as they weren’t easy to come by……but I did finally get a few seed via a contact from the botanical garden in Bergen who told me that a friend of hers had actually climbed a tree and harvested nuts!!!! Was her friend a monkey? The tree was located in Os, just south of Bergen. They germinated in spring 2007 and I attempted to overwinter outside in a plastic greenhouse open at the top and with a leaf mulch around the roots. I’d heard rumours that larger trees sold from a local nursery for an exorbitant price had survived (never confirmed for my area where winter temperatures can go down to -20C). They survived until mid-March 2018, when I took the picture, but it didn’t make it through a subsequent very cold period ☹ I didn’t try again.

Mid-March 2018 in a roofless cold frame in my garden

A minimum of about -15C seems to be about the temperature limit here and this limits the area they can be grown to a narrow strip outermost along almost the entire Norwegian coast it turns out. One of the biggest surprises in my gardening life was to discover a monkey puzzle growing in Skavberg nursery not far from the arctic city of Tromsø close to 70°N!! Owner Bjørn Thon was also growing Maori carrots (Aciphylla spp.) from New Zealand and many other plants I’d never seen before in Norway. Bjørn has been a long-term collaborator of the Tromsø Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden and had been on collection trips to South America. His monkey puzzle had actually been from nuts bought on the market at Puerto Montt in Chile rather than Norwegian trees. The botanical garden, located in a more exposed site than the nursery, also tried but failed, the young plants dying after a few years.

I also have a Brazilian monkey puzzle (Paraná pine) overwintered in my cold cellar without lights at about 3-4C and bring it up as a Xmas tree for a couple of weeks 😊  See http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=15467

Other links:
My monkey puzzle safari in Chile (old growth forest)
http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=16981

A visit with Andrew McMillion to Norway’s largest monkey puzzle tree: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=16922

Discussion on monkey puzzle on a  Norwegian gardening forum in 2009:
http://www.hagepraten.no/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=21063&start=45&hilit=apenes+skrekk

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