Common Name : Monkey Puzzle Tree (or Bunya Pine)
Scientific Name: Araucaria bidwillii
Description: The evergreen scale-like leaves of this tree are sharply pointed and held tightly on two to three foot branches. Branches constantly drop and become even sharper as they dry. The cones of this tree are not conspicuous in South Florida. These trees can be spectacular when viewed at a distance.
The large, female fruiting cones are large heavy weighing in around eight to ten pounds and each contains from 50 to 100 large "nuts". The cones are usually formed once every three years and fall from the tree when ripe. Because of their size and weight, they can cause serious injury to anyone standing underneath. (The zoo's tree is planted on a small hill away from the walking trail.) The nuts are edible and were a rich source of food for the Aborigines of south-east Queensland. During the "Bunya season" the Aborigines would temporarily set aside their tribal differences and gather in the mountains for great Bunya Nut Feasts.
Click here for a fascinating story about how this tree may have led researchers to author Sherlock Holmes as the person who may have perpetrated one of science's most famous frauds.
Range: Queensland, Australia
Recommended LINKS & BOOKS
A great resource for botanical information is Botanica which you can order from Amazon.com at this link. This text features beautiful color photos and descriptions of over 10,000 garden plants. It is also available to order on CD from Canada.