Identifying Monkey Puzzle Tree

(Question)

Hello,
On a recent visit to Scotland, I saw a couple instances of the tree shown in the attached photo. The individual branches look similar to a long version of a Hens ‘n Chick. (I couldn’t attach a 2nd picture to illustrate.)

I’m curious as to the type of tree and would it survive in a southern Ontario climate.

Thank you,
Alicia Struke

 

(Answer)

The tree that you are asking about appears to be a Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana) which is native to Argentina.  It prefers a cool climate with mild winters.  While you can see pictures of them covered with snow online, unfortunately (it is my personal favourite tree), it is unlikely to be hardy in most of Ontario, even southern Ontario.  Apparently there are a few specimens in Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catherines Ontario.  You can see them around the Victoria, Vancouver, New York and other places, including England and Scotland, in the temperate world.

Below is a link to a thread on the UBC Botanical Garden site about the possibility of growing in Ontario.

http://forums.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/threads/monkey-puzzle-tree-growing-in-ontario.29708/

As noted in that link you could try growing one indoors, although our dry, heated homes are not ideal.  However,  even if you were successful eventually the tree would get too big for your house – they can grow to 100 to 150 feet.  As the  evergreen leaves are rigid and sharply spined, long before it became too big, it might have become an unwelcome house guest.