Endangered Plant

Monkey Puzzle Tree

Background Information

The monkey puzzle tree is found in the Andean Range and the Cordillera de Nahuelbuta Coastal Range of Chile and on the eastern slopes of the Argentinean Andes. It grows in mixed forests with deciduous or evergreen species. Between November and December female flowers start growing as spherical green cones. Each cones releases between 120-200 seeds. These seeds are edible and form an important food source for the indigenous Pehuenche people in the central south of Chile. The seeds have high carbohydrate content and the collection, storage, trade and preparation of meals from them is a characteristic and important part of the traditional lives of the Pehuenche people.

Why they are endangered.

Monkey puzzle tree forests have been rapidly destroyed and degraded due to logging, fire and grazing. During 2001-2002 thousands of hectares of monkey puzzle forests were burnt in southern Chile The cause of the fire is unknown but some local communities say that private owners were involved as they want to the 1990 logging ban to be revoked.

What we can do to help.

A conservation strategy for the species must consider the expansion of the Nahuelbuta National Park, and the development of new protected areas in the Coastal Range, especially in the southernmost populations. Restoration activities are also necessary for Andean and Coastal populations. Activities should include fine-scale mapping, in order to identify small-sized populations that require urgent restoration measures, and education on the conservation and propagation of the monkey puzzle tree for local people. The Global Trees Campaign worked to restore monkey puzzle forest in Chile and Argentina and conducted educational programs in two projects between 2003 and 2007.