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Araucaria araucana - (Molina.)K.Koch.

Common Name Monkey Puzzle Tree
Family Araucariaceae
USDA hardiness 7-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Mountain slopes in deep sandy soils in coniferous woodland, usually with Nothofagus spp[139].
Range S. America - S. Chile
Edibility Rating    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Araucaria araucana Monkey Puzzle Tree

(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Araucaria araucana Monkey Puzzle Tree
(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future


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Form: Pyramidal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Araucaria araucana is an evergreen Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from June to July, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Wind. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


A. imbricata. Pinus araucana.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Canopy;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses:

Seed - raw or cooked. Rich in starch[183]. The seed is soft like a cashew nut and has a slight flavour of pine nuts. This is a delicious seed and it makes very pleasant eating. It is a food that can easily be eaten in quantity and can be used as a staple food in the diet[K]. Fairly large, the seeds are about the size of an almond and can be 3cm long x 1cm wide. They are harvested in the autumn and, when kept in cool, dry conditions will store for at least 9 months[K].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

A resin obtained from incisions in the trunk is used in the treatment of ulcers and wounds[46, 61, 139].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Resin  Shelterbelt  Wood

Very tolerant of maritime exposure, trees can be grown as part of a shelterbelt, though they are very slow growing and have an open canopy and so do not give a lot of shelter[75, 81]. A resin is obtained from incisions in the trunk. This is used mainly for medicinal purposes[46, 61, 139]. Wood - pale yellowish, good quality, takes a beautiful polish. Used for joinery and carpentry[1, 46, 61, 139].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Management: Standard  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Balanced carb

Landscape Uses:Pest tolerant, Aggressive surface roots possible, Specimen. Prefers a deep well-drained soil[11, 200]. Dislikes hot dry soils[1]. Dislikes atmospheric pollution[166]. Very tolerant of maritime exposure and salt laden winds[75, 81]. The monkey puzzle is a very slow growing tree that can take 5 - 10 years before it even gets above grass height and then grows around 35cm a year[185]. New growth takes place from late June to September[185]. The seed forms a staple food for the native Indians in regions where it grows in Chile, it is also sold in local markets there[46, 139]. This tree has an excellent potential to become a commercial crop in the western parts of Britain, it is high yielding, has large tasty seeds and is easily harvested. Its main disadvantages are its slow rate of growth and the time it takes before the first crop is produced - this can be up to 40 years from seed though we have often seen plants less than 20 years old produce cones[K]. The plant is dioecious so at least one male plant needs to be grown for every 5 - 6 females - unfortunately there is no way of telling the sex of the tree until it flowers. There are means of vegetative reproduction and it might be possible to produce clones of known sex in the future - these will probably come into bearing at an earlier age. If you have the space to plant at least 5 trees, and the foresight, this is a tree that will be a very valuable food crop in the future[K]. It is said that 18 good-sized trees can provide enough for an adult's sustenance all year round[2]. Plants grow best in S.W. England and along the west coast of Britain where they produce seed regularly and abundantly[11, 80]. Female cones take 2 - 3 years to mature and break up at the end of the year[185]. They contain up to 200 large seeds. Plants self-sow in Cornwall[80]. We have records of trees regularly producing good crops of seeds in various sites in Cornwall, Devon and the west coast of Scotland. We also have one report of an excellent crop in 1997 from trees at Alvaston Castle near Derby and of a tree in Bedfordshire producing a heavy crop[K]. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus[81, 200]. Unlike most conifers, this tree can be coppiced[81]. Special Features: Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 12 through 6. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a standard with a non-suckering single trunk [1-2]. An evergreen.

Carbon Farming

  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.
  • Staple Crop: Balanced carb  (0-15 percent protein, 0-15 percent oil, with at least one over 5 percent). The carbohydrates are from either starch or sugar. Annuals include maize, wheat, rice, and potato. Perennials include chestnuts, carob, perennial fruits, nuts, cereals, pseudocereals, woody pods, and acorns.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[134] or it can be stored cool and moist then sown February in a greenhouse[78, 80]. Although the plants are quite cold-tolerant, the root systems of seedling plants can be damaged in spells of very cold weather so give some extra protection at this time if necessary. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 2 months at 15°c[134]. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots. The plants have a rather sparse root system and are best placed in their final positions as soon as possible. Give them some protection for their first winter[K]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, May to July in a cold frame. Only epicormic side-shoots should be used, normal side-shoots do not develop properly[81]. An epicormic shoot is one that develops from a dormant bud on the main trunk of the tree[K].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Range

SOUTHERN AMERICA: Argentina, Neuquén, Río Negro, Chile, Biobío, La Araucanía, Los Lagos,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Agathis dammaraAmboina PineTree50.0 10-11 MLMHFSNM004
Agathis macrophyllaDakuaTree30.0 10-12 FLMHFSNM004
Agathis mooreiPacific Kauri, Moore KauriTree25.0 10-12 MLMHFSNM104
Agathis robustaQueensland KauriTree45.0 8-11  LMHSNM003
Araucaria angustifoliaParana Pine. Brazilian-pine, Candelabra-tree.Tree35.0 9-12 SLMHNM313
Araucaria bidwilliiBunya-Bunya, Monkey Puzzle Tree, False Monkey PuzzleTree40.0 9-11 MLMHSNM302

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

   Wed Jan 4 2006

My monkey puzzle has fruited for the first time this year. I guess this means it is female! However, I do not know of another monkey puzzle tree in the vicinity of my house so I am intrigued about how the flowers got pollinated! Presumably the pollen can travel long distances on the wind? lynn Martin [email protected]

Ron Meadows   Tue Jul 4 2006

I live an the North Yorshire about a half mile from the sea. My monkey puzzle tree is about 35 years old and two years age developed two cones and this year they are starting to turn brown Two more cones have started to grow this year (2006).The point I would like to make is if the can grow and fruit here they will so anywere!!

barry wardle   Fri Jul 21 2006

I live in Teeside and our monkey tree is obout fifteen years old and stands about17 feet tall. Last year two balls appeared and have now grown to about therr inches in diameter and are turning brown, there are now an additional 9 balls starting to grow, can any one give me some info about the addition to the tree, and if they will flower, or do they fall off and the seeds scatter, to grow again into new trees. any info would be most welcome.

sue robinson   Sun Aug 13 2006

i bought a monkey puzzle tree last year it, its approx 1.5feet high but it is turning brown - is it dying? what should i do? its still in the original pot

Willie Lang   Wed Sep 27 2006

Believe it or not I have a twenty-five year old tree in my yard I planted as a seedling brought back from Chili, here in North Florida. The tree is a male and I hope to add some females in the coming

   Mon Dec 4 2006

i have a monkey puzzle tree that is 99 years old and this year it has compleltely turned brown. it is dead or dying and is there a chance that it will continue to grow. What could have possibly caused it to die as there has been nothing done to it or any changes made to it in any way. Many thanks Julia

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future.   Tue Dec 5 2006

Julie, I am afraid that it sounds as though your tree is already dead. I am not sure where you are located, but one of the most common causes of death in old trees is environmental stress - particularly drought and excessive heat. Certainly, if you were somewhere like southeast England, where the weather in 2006 was very hot and dry, then this would probably be the cause of death. There are many Monkey Puzzle trees in Britain more than 100 years old and still healthy, but they do tend to die by the time they are around 130 years of age.

Dani Nofal   Sun Jan 28 2007

The weather were this trees grow is farly cold and humid winters and autumms, mild springs, also humid, and dry and farly warm summers. If you water them excesively during the summer they will die. They are used to some drought during the summer. They cannot handle a lot of competition in the ground either, they commonly grow as pure woods down here. Hope it helps

Carla VanDeBeek   Thu Feb 1 2007

Are there any key difference's between the A auraucana (monkey puzzle) and the A bidwillii (bunya nut). So far the only aspect I have come up with is the seeds. Monkey Puzzle has longer slimmer seeds compared to the bunya's fatter seeds. Is this true.

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Mon Mar 5 2007

In response to Carla's question. Whilst the two species are fairly closely related, there are a number of key differences, some botanical and some environmental. I am not a botanist, but from the gardener's viewpoint these are some of the differences:- A. bidwillii is a much larger tree when fully grown - to 45 metres compared with the 30 metres of A. araucana. The seed cone of A. bidwillii is pineapple-like, up to 30cm long by 23cm wide. A. araucana is globose, 10 - 18cm long. The branchlets of A. bidwillii are pendant, whilst those of A. araucana curve upwards when young. A. araucana is a considerably hardier tree, tolerating a reasonable amount of frost and growing successfully in many areas of mainland Britain, whereas A. bidwillii cannot be grown successfully on the mainland and, even in the milder Isles of Scilly is likely to be killed in a cold winter. These are by no means the only differences, but are enough to show that these are two distinct species.

peter Sneddon   Sun Apr 22 2007

I ws driving from Ballarat to Newstead in Victoria Australia yesterday with a friend and spotted a Monkey puzzle tree in the grounds of an old house. probably quite old at least 2-3 mtr in girth and looked to be in good condition despite the drought that we have here in Vioctoria at present Will Send a picture next time I am in the area

Debbie Tapley   Sun Jan 7 2007

Hello I am the owner of a 3 year old monkey puzzle tree which is still in a pot on the patio and I have recently aquired a 7ft tall monkey puzzle tree - can anyone advise me on how to dig up the 7ft one from another garden to replant in my garden ie how deep do I dig and where do I locate it? Many thanks [email protected]

Dave Whyman   Sun Feb 4 2007

I have inherited two monkey puzzle trees in my garden at my new house they are about 2-3 feet high but are only about a foot apart. Is it possible to move these apart and if so when is the best time of year to do this? Any advice would be appreciated. Dave

Brian Nolan   Mon Apr 16 2007

My dad bought an old estate...and there are 2 beautiful trees in an old orchard in the west of Ireland...they are easily 20 metres tall, and healthy...however...I dont know if they are male of female...nor if they are fertile...how can I go about getting them to propogate...? Brian, Galway

Kerry   Wed May 9 2007

I have a monkey puzzle which is atleast 80 years old. Unfortunately the previous occupants have laid tarmac around the base of the tree and I fear it is not getting enough moisture now. The very top of the tree is green with new growth, the rest is brown, however on the brown branches there are little shoots of green. I have been told by a tree surgeon to expect alot of the lower branches to die naturally. Is this true? Or is the tree dying? We live on the edge of Ashdown forest, surrounded by all types of firs and they all seem fine. Whats the verdict?

Nigel Spinks   Mon Jun 4 2007

Hi we have just moved a monkey puzzle tree from one garden to another any tips please on how to look after it.We live in suffolk many thanks.

Nicky   Sat Jun 9 2007

I am a monkey puzzle enthusiast and draw and make prints of trees local to me, particularly in the south east. One owner said that there is a Monkey Puzzle Society. Is there?

Barry Andrews   Thu Jul 5 2007

We live in Matlock Bath in Derbyshire and have 2 Monkey Puzzle trees in the front garden. They were planted when the house was built in 1848 and are now about 30m tall. This year I looked out as I thought there was a fire and realized that it was the cones. Whenever the wind blew or a bird landed on a branch, they exploded with what I presume was pollen. It spewed out in a great cloud. They are greatly admired by visitors to the village.

Ian Mulley   Wed Aug 8 2007

We have a monkey puzzle which is around 150 years old. We live in Burnley in North West England and we have looked after it for the last twenty years. Unfortunately it has lost most of its branches and has only a topnot left. The house was built in 1862 and the tree was here before then according to local history, as part of the local church's ornamental garden. It is also weeping sap from the base and looks like it is on its last legs. I fear it will have to go before it falls. Big shame.

Tony Johnson   Mon Oct 1 2007

Monkey puzzle trees lose their lower branches and are left with a top knot naturally. Please see the link - it's just reaching maturity!

ARKive Details of monkey puzzle trees in the wild

Peter Sobczynski   Fri Oct 5 2007

I have seen a number of grown up MP Trees in Couthorn near Barnsley(S. Yorshire) England. The soil is heavy clay developed on weathered coal measures. The winter temperatures can go down to as low as -20 C on ocasions.

jason lewis   Sat Nov 17 2007

can anyone help i have only had the tree since september and re potted itwhich i was told to do by thegarden centre ,but now someof the leaves are brown a few were already brown but not all of the leaves only parts othem .please help jason in eastleigh ,hampshire

Simon   Tue Dec 4 2007

In response to the message posted by Barry Wardle in July of last year, sounds like your monkey puzzle is very precocious. Have you got any seeds from it yet?

nicky browne   Mon Jan 21 2008

jason...your monkeypuzzle needs shade and slightly moist conditions while it grows and becomes established. they are such lovely trees cheers nicky

Billy Fowles   Fri Jan 25 2008

Billy Fowles Just bought a MP about 6 inches tall. I live in a flat in Penzance, Cornwall at the moment but hope to move into a house with a garden in Falmouth in the next 6 months or so.Any advise with regards replanting?

Jesus   Wed Feb 13 2008

I would like to know if A. araucana will take heat/drought. I live in New Mexico, and temperatures can reach 37 to 38C in summer and -17 C in winter. I've a couple of firs, spruces, gigant sequoia, etc. Should I try it Thanks

P Darvill   Sat Feb 23 2008

I have a tiny Monkey Puzzle tree in the garden of my new house I doubt i will live to see it grow huge as I am in my late 50's. I have noticed that MP trees seem to come in different shapes, are there different types or can they be pruned. Some have a full wide spread whilst others are shaped more like cartoon Christmas tree, and some have a round top and bare trunk.

Bogichevich Nebojsa   Wed May 21 2008

I've got 2 MP trees few days ago.Since I am living in Aticca (Greece) what are the chances of surviveing for these trees?I was warned that they don't do well in hot climate that we have.Trees are potted and about 1 meter hgh.

Ian Hamilton   Tue Jun 10 2008

Our monkey puzzle is sick, we are sure of this and it worries us that it might come down in astorm and cause serious problems. It is surrounded by block paving which we have decided to take up from around the base for better watering purposes. Can anyone come up with a GOOD fed for the tree once the ground around it has been better exposed. It sheds brances and leaves at quite a rate. Really don`t wont to lose it.

Darrell Willis   Sat Jun 21 2008

We have a 10 year old monkey puzzle in our front garden and would like to move it approximately 1 metre away from a palm tree because they have grown very close to each other. Is this possible? What would be the procedure? Many thanks in anticipation.

kally   Wed Jun 25 2008

we have a monkey puzzle tree and the bottom half of it has turned brown,it is approximately 50 years old. what coud be causing it, and is ther any cure for it?

gurugamage   Fri Jul 11 2008

I do have many seeds but i do not know hove to plant them in a bed of revers sand please give instructions how to plant them -guru

david n   Fri Sep 5 2008

Re: A.araucana in New Mexico. This plant is unlikely do survive in New Mexico, it needs moist coolish environments by most accounts.

Bernard James   Sat Aug 30 2008

Can anyone tell me if a Monkey Puzzle will survive on the Gold Coast (Queensland Australia)? I only know of mature specimens as far north as Sydney. Cheers Bernard

Alison R   Sat Sep 13 2008

Could anybody tell me how big the root systems are on this tree.I have an elderly neighbour who has one in her garden which has been there for at least 35 years an she is worried that the roots could be doing damage to her property.

david n   Sat Sep 13 2008

RE: root system doing damage? The root system of a tree is basically as large as the part of the tree that is above ground. I've seen the roots of a similar plant Araucaria heteraphylla break through concrete, but only near the base. I suspect most of the roots go deep to anchor this huge tree. I'm afraid I cant say for sure if it would threaten a house, it's certainly possible.

jennifur haig   Wed Sep 17 2008

Isabelle   Sun Nov 2 2008

We have only had our 8 foot high monkey puzzle for one year. It has has small white balls in higher branches that we thought may be due to an insect? More worryingly the lower branches are turning brown and we have a fungus growing around the trunk. we feared honey fungus but the landscaper & nursery say it is unlikely. Does anyone know of a site with pictures so we can try our own diagnosis? Does anyone have any treatment ideas? Thanks for any advice. Isabelle

Jack Russell   Mon Nov 3 2008

Jack 3rd Nov. 2008 My female tree has produced numerous seed balls but they have not been pollinated therefore the seeds are empty when they fall There are other trees in the district but a bit away from mine. It is possible to manually pollinate this tree?

Eunice   Sun Nov 9 2008

Our monkey puzzle tree is approx 30ft tall and we don't want it to grow any taller. Any advice on pruning at the top, if feasible, would be appreciated.

Jack Russell   Tue Nov 11 2008

As stated on Nov. 3rd, my female tree has numerous seed balls. At first I thought that they were all empty, now I have found a few that have been pollinated. Any reason why only a few pollinate? Has anyone got an answer?

Steve Newton   Sun Nov 30 2008

I'm think of buying a small (2.5ft) monkey puzzle tree for my garden. But I only have room for say a 5ft diameter space. I understand that they grow very slowly but how many years will it be before it gets to this size? I would then have to replant it or give it away. The local garden centre says I could plant it in a container to limit it's growth. does any one know if this will work? Location: Nottingham, England

Linda   Tue Apr 14 2009

I live at about 7500 feet in New Mexico, where we have juniper, ponderosa, pinon trees and other conifers on our property and would like to start a Monkey Puzzle tree from seed. I have obtained about 16 seeds and need information on where and how to plant them. Any information would be appreciated.

david n   Tue Apr 14 2009

did you see the notes under propagation above on this page (Araucaria araucana)? covers seed a bit, that's all we have

Dilnawaz Ahmed   Tue Apr 21 2009

I am looking for seeds to grow Araucaria can somebody advise i will be most greatfull Thank you

Frank and Jeannette Ayton   Wed Apr 22 2009

We have a large monkey puzzle tree the trunk of which is some 45 cm in diameter. It must be at least 30 years old. We are planning to have a conservatory built but we are told by our builder's rep that the tree could be too close to the proposed foundations. Just how much farther than the span of the branches do the roots of this tree spread? Help - the tree will come before any building but it would be nice to have both!

david   Thu Apr 30 2009

The roots of a mature tree can definately go well beyond the outermost branches, I don't know anything specific about this plant except that it it could be awakwardly large in a normal suburban garden to say the least.

Diane Morton   Sat May 30 2009

We have an 18 year old monkey puzzle tree that was planted in the wrong spot and is now pressing up against a hedge which doesn't look very nice but can't be good for it either. We would like to relocate it but were warned that it could die during the process? Has anyone had success moving them and got any tips? Alternatively, does anyone know if having its branches restricted will affect it?

marta   Sun Jun 7 2009

How old must be a MP tree to bear cones? In which year of life Araucaria Araucana will have it's first cones? Does anyone know?

david   Sun Jun 7 2009

It can be from around twenty years to forty years from seed, they are slow(see above under "cultivation details" note also that separate male and female trees are needed for nuts.

Chuck Sachs   Thu Jul 16 2009

HI, I think my Monkey Puzzle tree might be dying. We had too much rain in June and the area where our tree is got flooded. The bottom branches are now brown, with just the very tips green. Is there anything I can do? Will the whole tree die? Please help. Thanks.

KATE GORDON   Fri Aug 14 2009


Helen   Sat Sep 12 2009

I have a monkey puzzle tree in a house I have just moved to, it is about 2 storeys tall but is really close to the house about 15ft. It is very unusual as it has both male and female parts on the same plant. We really need to remove it to keep the house safe does anyone have any suggestions as to how to move it and if anyone would want it.

Peter Eaton (South Normanton)   Sat Jan 16 2010

hi. I purchased a puzzle tree from a garden centre. About a foot high at the time. left it in its pot. Seemed to completely die, then growth as to 4 new shoots starting from the top. Left on at the moment all the old dead side branches. What happed here ??? Shall I keep it. Very little growth in the last 3 years we have had it. now planted out in the garden but unlike why I purchased an unusual & nice tree now an ugly mess I am sorry to say. Lucky we have on the estate a fine example of the tree probably 20 foot high to look at.

   Sat Jan 23 2010

We have two Monkey Puzzle trees - both about 150 feet tall - not sure how old but the house was built in 1840's. So I guess these would have been planted well over 100 years ago. This year one of them has dropped a number of huge balls which I guess are the things which contain the nuts. Have no idea what to do with them. Incidentally, there are a number of smaller (very young) trees growing in the garden.

   Feb 11 2011 12:00AM

Deer devouring Douglas and sequoia leave Monkey Puzzlers alone. A Forestry Commission Officer publicly told me it would take sixteen trees to support a person for a year. I had said twelve. The sex ratio could be critical. Reading the comments here it is shocking how unappreciated are the merits of this tree. I had to pay almost a pound for each seed.... fortunately they all grew.

   Jul 27 2017 12:00AM

"Araucaria (Araucaria araucana) is a conifer tree, endemic of Chile. The seed of this tree, named piñon are composed principally of starch. In this work, piñon seeds and the starch isolated from them were evaluated. The piñon seeds are composed of starch (64%), dietary fibre (25%), total sugar (7%) and very low concentrations of phenolic compounds, lipids, proteins and crude fibre. ". I was going to grow them till I learned this. https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/716256

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Subject : Araucaria araucana  
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