Monkey Puzzle Tree

This is an amazing plant. I took these pictures in Scotland in August, 2009. Flat Stanley was in a monkey puzzle tree. The leaves are incredibly hard – almost as if they’d been made out of ceramic or even steel. They are sharp, too – like the blades of knives.DSC_8170-smallHere’s the most interesting part. Why are the leaves on the monkey puzzle tree so incredibly tough? It wasn’t to stop monkeys from climbing them. This type of tree is so old that it evolved tough leaves to protect itself from dinosaurs. That’s right, this type of tree existed in the time of the dinosaurs. Not this particular one, of course. Some trees can live as long as 1000 years. That’s a long time, but the original monkey puzzle tree evolved in the Late Cretaceous period, about 140 million years ago. So even though the dinosaurs that this tree protected itself against didn’t survive, the monkey puzzle tree is still tough enough to prevent being eaten by one.

The monkey puzzle tree is native to Chile and was introduced to England and Scotland in the 1800’s where they can still be found, usually in the gardens surrounding castles and large estates.

Check out the monkey puzzle tree at Wikipedia . DSC_8112-small

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