Tag Archives: Araucaria araucana

Monkey Puzzle Safari in Chile

In December 2004, I went to a remote sensing conference in Concepcion in Chile in my other life as an ocean wave climatologist!
I took some holiday to experience some of the native edibles. One of the main objectives was to experience the ancient old growth Monkey Puzzle forest (Araucaria araucana) and I hoped also to see nuts (piñones) for sale on Mapuche (the indigenous people) markets. It was probably the wrong time of the year (spring) and I didn’t see any nuts. However, after a failed attempt to get up into the main part of the Conguillío National Park due to late laying snow, I did a long hike into the Huerquehue National Park where I walked amongst the old growth monkey puzzle trees that are sometimes known as Umbrella or Toilet Brush trees as old trees (they can reach 1,000 years old!) only have a few branches at the top. Nowadays, it is an endangered species and logging is no longer allowed. It is also the national tree of Chile. A significant part of the diet of the native Pehuenche people (one of the Mapuche peoples) were the nutritious nuts and their name means simply people of the monkey puzzle seeds (Pewen).

Balestrand and the journey to Sogn

Andrew McMillion​ kindly picked me up early on Friday morning from the night train at Oslo airport and we drove together to the location of the KVANN / Norwegian Seed Savers annual meeting in Leikanger on the Sognefjord. As we were to arrive earlier than the other board members, I suggested going to Balestrand, about an hour further on as I’d heard that Norway’s largest Monkey Puzzle tree (apeskrekk) could be seen there! Andrew didn’t hesitate as he wanted also to go to Balestrand as he actually had family roots just a kilometer away from the tree!! There was much more than that though! It was an amazing day, first the wonderful trip over the mountains in perfect weather…to see what else we experienced, see the album!!