Thanks to my friend Geir Flatabø from Hardanger, I could finally add monkey puzzle nuts (piñones) to my life list of plants eaten (Araucaria araucana; also known as Mapuche nuts or Chilean pine nuts; apeskrekk in Norwegian). Like large pine nuts, they were delicious! Can’t wait 40 years for my first home grown nuts ;) I also sowed a few as the single young tree in my garden needs company and I’d also like to plant some in the community garden (Væres Venner). I don’t know of any trees that have survived on this side of the fjord, but on the slightly milder northern shores of Trondheimsfjord there are a least two sizeable trees. I reckon climate change has come far enough now for us now to be part of the Norwegian coastal zone north to Tromsø where this tree should grow! I’ve tried a couple of times before without success! The very sharp end to the nut is clearly designed to penetrate the soil after falling! I planted a small tree in the garden last summer, grown from seed and overwintered a couple of winters in my cellar, and it seems to be doing well so far! Here¨’s a couple of pictures taken today:
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).
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!!
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden