Araucaria heterophylla

View of the monkey puzzle tree

There are trees that are very curious. Perhaps one of the most is the Araucaria heterophylla, a conifer with horizontal branches that form floors. Its growth rate is very slow, but its beauty has made it one of the most planted tree plants in gardens in warm regions.

Sometimes it is even used to decorate the interior, especially during Christmas in temperate climates, although this is not always a success, as it is not a species that is used to living in these conditions.

What is the origin and characteristics of the Araucaria heterophylla?

View of Araucaria heterophylla

Image sourced from Wikimedia/bertknot

La Araucaria heterophylla It is a coniferous tree endemic to the Australian island of Norfolk. It is known by the common names araucaria or araucaria excelsa or Norfolk pine, although it does not really belong to the Pinaceae family, but has its own: Araucariaceae. It grows up to 70 meters in height, and has a conical or pyramidal shape.

Its branches, as we said at the beginning, grow horizontally or somewhat obliquely, and form floors with the upper ones being shorter. The leaves are green scales that remain on the plant for years until they are replaced by new ones, so it is considered an evergreen species.

It is a dioecious species, which means that there are female feet and male feet. The male cones are yellowish or reddish, have an elongated shape and measure about 4 centimeters; instead they are round and measure between 10 and 15 centimeters. When they mature, they turn brown and open little by little, freeing the seeds that have a wing that helps the wind carry them away from their parents.

It is a threatened species.

What uses is it given?

Only ornamental. It is a plant that, despite the "inconvenience" of having a slow growth rate, is very beautiful. Its curious pyramidal shape draws a lot of attention, making it easy to stand out from the rest, although green predominates in that area.

For many years it can be kept in a pot, for example on a patio or terrace, to give them a special touch.

What care should be given to the Araucaria heterophylla?

View of Norfolk Pine

La Araucaria heterophylla It is a plant that must be grown outdoors whenever possible. It must be in full sun, and if possible on the ground, with fertile and light soil, which is not very compacted. Its roots can extend quite a bit, so in order not to have problems with pipes or cemented soils, it is advisable to plant it at a distance of 10 meters from them.

During the time that it is kept in a pot, it will be important that the substrate is of quality. It can be the Universal that they sell anywhere, but it must contain at least perlite. For example, the one from the Fertiberia brand and the one from Flower are very interesting, since they absorb water very well and filter it even better. They do not compact easily, and the roots notice this, as they develop normally. On the other hand, you must not forget to transplant your plant every 3 or 4 springs.

Irrigation will be equally necessary. You have to pour water until the whole earth is moistened about 2 times a week, but if the weather is very dry and/or hot, you may need to water it 3 times a week. In winter, reduce the frequency of watering to prevent its roots from rotting.

Multiplies by seeds, which should be picked as soon as they mature (late summer/early fall) and planted as soon as possible.

Resists mild frosts, up to -3ºC.

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