This was originally posted on the Trebrown forums in 2006. The thread is now closed. However, youâ€™re welcome to leave a comment on this blog.
"Dear Sirs, I have received from you the seeds of Araucaria araucana. Could you give me an instruction how to handle it? What is the best procedure for germination? Many thanks in advance. Yours sincerely Dr. Pavel KÅ™ivka"
Monkey Puzzle seeds have no dormancy. Therefore, they are simply planted when fresh. They can be planted in pots or in the ground. However, the main problem with these is that they attract mice from miles around, and the only sure way I have found to stop these getting eaten is to sprout them in sealed boxes. Get a plastic sandwich box with a sealable lid. Put about 5 cm of damp moss in the bottom, then put the seeds in with their point downwards. With the temperature at about 20°C they will start to germinate within 5 days. To try and stop them germinating straight away you can keep the temperature lower, and then raise the temperature when you want them to germinate. The only problem with that is that several will die if they donâ€™t germinate straight away. Mice and rabbits will eat the sprouted seeds also, so you might want to cage the potted plants until they grow bigger. You will be able to see the roots forming by looking through the underside of the plastic box, if the plastic box is transparent. It makes it very easy if it is.
The Monkey puzzle tree is the iconic living fossil. A prehistoric tree dating back to the late Triassic period 210 million years ago. The treeâ€™s armoury of sharp leaves is probably an evolutionary adaptation to protect it from browsing dinosaurs. Of-course the tree predates the dinosaurs and probably became extinct in its northern hemisphere range at about the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, only surviving in South America.
There are 20 known species of Araucaria. Only one other is found in South America: Araucaria angustifolia. Two species are found in Queensland Australia: Araucaria bidwillii, and Araucaria cunninghamii. Two species are known in New Guinea: Araucaria cunninghamii var. papuana, and Araucaria hunsteinii. One is found on Norfolk Island: Araucaria heterophylla. All the remaining 13 species are found on that prehistoric island, and plant diversity hotspot that is New Caledonia: Araucaria bernieri, Araucaria biramulata, Araucaria columnaris, Araucaria humboldtensis, Araucaria laubenfelsii, Araucaria luxurians, Araucaria montana, Araucaria muelleri, Araucaria nemorosa, Araucaria rulei, Araucaria schmidii, Araucaria scopulorum, Araucaria subulata.