Timberpedia - Monkey-Puzzle
|Latin Name:||Irish Name:||Native to Ireland?|
About the Tree
Introduced 1797 from South America. Also known as “Chile Pine” or Pehuén.
“Re-introduced” might be a more correct phrase, as pollen from this species has been found lurking in the depths of mud beneath Irish loughs. The pollen is from well before the Ice Age which
ended 10,000 years ago, and presumably goes back to a time when Ireland was closer to the
equator, and therefore warmer. Can it therefore be argued that this tree is indigenous to
Ireland? Technically, yes. Logically, and based on people’s understanding of the word
“indigenous”, no. But, this tree was living on Irish soil before we were.
The origin of the popular English name Monkey-puzzle derives from its early cultivation in Britain in
about 1850, when the species was still very rare in gardens and not widely known. The proud
owner of a young specimen at Pencarrow garden near Bodmin in Cornwall was showing it to a
group of friends, and one made the remark “It would puzzle a monkey to climb that”; as the
species had no existing popular name, first ‘monkey-puzzler’, then ‘monkey-puzzle’ stuck (Mitchell
About the Wood
Once valued because of its long, straight trunk, its current rarity and vulnerable status mean its
wood is now rarely used; it is also sacred to some members of the Mapuche Native American tribe
(Lewington & Parker 1999).
Monkey puzzle wood has a high mechanical resistance and moderate resistance to fungal decay.
These properties mean that it has been used for beams in buildings, bridges, piers, roofs, furniture,
boat structures, veneers and plywood.
The fine-grained wood of this species has long been prized, and used for construction, furniture,
boats (especially masts), and paper pulp.
Know your wood! The Timberpedia is a broad resource that aims to catalogue all the major tree species in Ireland, containing information that we’ve gathered from over two decades maintaining our natural woodland and serving Ireland’s woodworking industry.
All written material is copyright © 2021 by the Lisnavagh Timber Project.