Not exactly fruit: nut….pine nut. But not even exactly pine

I have been fascinated with monkey puzzle tree ( Araucaria araucana) and its reportedly delicious “pine”-nuts, ever since a trip to Seattle a few years ago.
I want to ask if anyone in the mid Atlantic region has had any success growing these trees. I have grown one in zone 7a/b about 10 years ago, but it died in summer months- perhaps from a fungal problem, though definitive symptoms were not noted.
I am currently growing three small trees.
In my neighborhood, one gardener has a tree that is over 20 feet tall.
I have heard that there are some trees growing in the Georgetown region of Washington DC and I am planning to make a scouting trip to explore them at some point.

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Planted one July 2005 in Berea, KY. It died that next winter (probably from root rot of some sort).

This is why I love this site! I’ve walked by monkey puzzle trees in nw Washington (zone 8a) for years and never thought to examine the fallen cones. For some reason you can find these 20’ trees every few blocks in my town… maybe planted long ago as ornamentals or maybe even nut trees. From the notes below I see the trees need a pollenizer. Usually the local backyards here have just 1 tree, its size usually dwarfing the house. I will report back about nuts in these solitary trees!

These trees take twenty years to reach sexual maturity and similar to other ancient trees like gingko biloba, and fellow Araucaria genus member the bunya, they are dioecious having distinct male and female trees with different cones. This means it takes a male and a female to produce their nut-like seeds. The pollen from the oblong-shaped male cones is blown by the wind to the female cones. This feature of the tree seems like a bit of a puzzle, though, since there’s no sign of male trees near most of the monkey trees I’ve foraged from in Vancouver. It turns out that very occasionally a monkey tree can be a hermaphrodite and produce cones from both sexes, but such a tree would have loads of fertilized seeds. Amazingly, the pollen can travel up to 10km, so it’s possible that we don’t have a city filled with monkey tree hermaphrodites especially since the cones I’ve seen only have a handful of fertilized (edible) seeds in them. It’s likely that the fertilization is thanks to a distant male tree and the wind, which is seriously impressive.
from Foraging – Monkey Puzzle Nuts – Urban Huntress

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I have seen lots of them in yards outside of DC. They seem to do well, but not sure about the nuts. I heard they take like 10 years to start nut production. I was interested in any of the edible pine nuts until I heard that.

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There are male and female trees ( dioceous) It takes a long time before one can find out what kind it is.
There are some beautiful large trees near me. But I have never seen a single edible cone.

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One near me in West Seattle has what appear to be cones forming now, but not sure when they ripen? I’ll swing by this week and take a closer look now that I’m curious.

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Local nursery owner in 6b/7a told he has had one for 6 or 7 years at his house.

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This tree overhangs the sidewalk and looks to be loaded with cones and maybe the remnants of last year’s cones? Does anyone know when they tend to ripen? I’m not too shy to knock on a door and ask if they plan to harvest them :joy:

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Thats beautiful! Is there a male tree in the neighborhood?
Would be great to grow a few (or several ) from seed. They are a beautiful tree.

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Wow! That tree is amazing! I gotta admit, I’d never seen one until very recently. I was petting it (upwards only).

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I just convinced my 8 year old to walk around the neighborhood in search of more of them. From the hill above the original tree (front left), we spotted an even larger one growing behind a nearby house, but it also appears to be female:

We walked down the alleyway and there’s a third smaller tree next to it (also appears to be female):

We circled the neighborhood for a little while before walking home, but didn’t see any more of them.

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Those are beautiful trees wish I could grow one,I believe I am out of their range in z6. WV.
Burnt ridge has seed for sale …
https://www.burntridgenursery.com/Monkey-Puzzle-Trees/products/65/

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I grew one that I had purchased from Burnt Ridge (I’ve bought 2 over the years). The more successful one of the two got to be almost 2 1/2 feet tall and was a pain to move in and out for winter (spindly thing).

Both of them succumbed to something when brought back outside after overwintering indoors. Had I known there are surviving plants in 6B/7A I would have tried planting it in the ground and protecting it like I do figs.

Scott

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Just remember to protect it like you do prickly pear cactus… “very carefully” :grinning:

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I heard these were edible, and spotted a tree in Tacoma growing on a vacant lot about 30 years ago. I knocked off a cone, which was filled with nuts. I found them pretty uninteresting. They’re starchy and reportedly best cooked. I steamed or boiled them, and they were just bland, the little flavor they possessed only mediocre. There’s probably a reason Planters isn’t selling them in cans : -) .

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Yes, but if the grocery had bare shelves for 30 days, you might find them more appealing. :wink:

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You bet. During exigencies, one can’t afford to be picky. But I find that lots of things classified as edible are really more appropriately described as famine fare (although there are many delectable exceptions, and some initially offputting foods are acquired tastes). There is a paucity of reviews online for these nuts. Most recipes incorporate them as an ingredient, which would probably work fine by balancing them with more intensely flavored components. But they aren’t like chestnuts, another starchy nut, which are superb in themselves roasted plain and eaten hot off the coals.

Cashews are problematic, but by the time they arrive in the grocery in a Planters can, they are delicious. I suspect there is a market for the Araucaria Aruncana (or monkey puzzle) seeds.

I finally got 3 of these last November for my wife. They were dug, balled and burlapped, and transplanted within 24 hours. 36" to 46" were the biggest he’d give me. Estimated 6-7 years old. Great price. Picked up at the source:







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Wow. You are so lucky. I’m envious of your climate.