Uses

If the outer shell of the seed is peeled back a very attractive kernel is revealed which has always been a valuable food source to the indigenous population of Chile and Argentina known as the Pehuenche and also and more recently the Mapuche. They are the inhabitants of the region in the Andes mountains where Araucaria aracana is prevalent.

The nuts can be eaten raw (good in a salad), boiled, roasted and can be ground down to be used in several different recipes including bread. They can also be fermented to produce muday which is a traditional alcoholic drink in the Mapuche community.

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Given that each female cone is made up of around 200 seeds and each tree produces 50 or more cones each year then 2 or 3 females and a single male tree can produce thousands of seeds annually. A useful food source.

The monkey puzzle has a very straight and tall trunk so is desirable as a good source of timber. However due to thousands of acres being lost to forest fires and over-logging the trees have declined in number and logging was banned in 1990. There is now no legal international trade in the wood of monkey puzzle trees.

In the past the timber was used extensively in all sorts of construction and carpentry projects including ship building, railway sleepers, bridges, piers, furniture etc.

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More recently, in the U.K., when a tree is downed because of gales or other natural or unnatural events, wood turners are delighted to get hold of the timber to create attractive small specialty items such as fruit bowls, cheese boards, clocks, table lamps etc.

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Araucaria araucana

The Monkey Puzzle Tree