Monkey Puzzle Tree forest, Nahuelbuta National Park, Chile, South America.

Hear the warble of exotic birds as you walk through an enchanting Monkey Puzzle tree forest in Nahuelbuta National Park, Cordillera de Nahuelbuta, a coast range near Angol (north of Temuco), Chile, South America. Mysterious mists water a garden of yellow lichen draped over the trees. Branches form an umbrella of sharp leaves on a straight trunk which grows to over 100 feet high. Monkey Puzzle trees (Araucaria araucana) are conifers which are usually dioecious, where male and female cones grow on separate trees, though some individuals bear cones of both sexes. Its edible seeds (about 200 in each female cone) are similar to large pine nuts. Araucaria araucana, the national tree of Chile, is native to central and southern Chile and western Argentina. As the hardiest species of its genus, this tree has become popular in gardens. Unfortunately, due to logging, burning, grazing, and habitat conversion to Pinus radiata plantations, Araucaria araucana is listed as an endangered species by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). In France, the Monkey Puzzle tree is known as désespoir des singes or “monkeys’ despair.” What international tourist literature calls the “Chilean Lake District” usually refers to the foothills between Temuco and Puerto Montt including three Regions (XIV Los Ríos, IX La Araucanía, and X Los Lagos) in what Chile calls the Zona Sur (Southern Zone). Published in: 1) The “Dinosaur Encyclopedia” 2007 by British publisher Dorling Kindersley; and 2) United States Fish and Wildlife Service, International Affairs web site concerning Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

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