Its Scattered ‘Living Fossil’ Monkey Puzzle Trees


There’s something delightfully alien and transportively prehistoric about Monkey Puzzle trees, which are dotted around the city like so many rare jewels. The Araucaria araucana (aka Monkey Puzzle, Chilean Pine) is an evergreen “living fossil” species that co-existed with the dinosaurs of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods hundreds of millions of years ago.

It has been suggested that an armor of dagger-like leaves on ancient araucariads might have discouraged hungry South American herbivorous dinosaurs, such as the enormous Argentinosaurus that weighed an estimated eighty to a hundred tons! – LINK

Monkey Puzzle trees can grow up to over 100ft high. They were fashionable in Vancouver in the 1920s and 30s, so it’s thought that most of those that are still standing were planted in those decades. As mentioned, they can be found across the city, but for an excellent specimen check out the corner of 21st Ave and Columbia, as seen below:


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  1. There’s a huge monkey puzzle tree at the top of my block, at the corner of 2nd and Larch. I appreciate the historical insight you’ve provided, which makes me want to look deeper into the subject.

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