Of course, no self-respecting blog about the monkey puzzle tree would not have something about Pencarrow. Why? Well, if you read about the origin of the name of the ‘Monkey Puzzle’ tree, you’ll soon find that apparently the name originated at Pencarrow House in Cornwall. Indeed, young Matthew Pottage visited Pencarrow House and in his collection of trees – which I documented here – he does include some of the trees at Pencarrow.


On his photograph he’s written that the story of monkey puzzle was ‘told to me by an old lady of Pencarrow House in Cornwall’. A very similar version of the story also appears on Pencarrow’s website:

Pencarrow also has a special relationship with the towering Araucaria araucana, the first specimen of which was bought by Sir William Molesworth (the then owner of Pencarrow, and the house is still in the family) for 20 guineas and planted in solemn state before a house party. Noted barrister Charles Austin remarked upon touching its prickly leaves, “It would be a puzzle for a monkey”. His oft-repeated witticism gave the tree its common name of Monkey Puzzle.

So the name for the monkey puzzle came from Pencarrow, and the gardens boast a magnificent display of conifers which includes monkey puzzle trees. And I am delighted to report that Agent Jim, our latest agent who is doing sterling work in the South West, has visited Pencarrow and came back with an initial report of 51 monkey puzzle trees, he has since revisited and done a recount and found 65 trees.

The main drive up from the entrance is a monkey puzzle avenue, but Jim also discovered that the avenue actually continues on the other side of the road from the entrance, towards a building which was originally a gatehouse (now a private dwelling).


The avenue is a very splendid sight. This is the view looking towards the entrance:

PL45 to 81 view to entrance 7526a

In the gardens there are many mature trees here, as well as some younger specimens, here are a couple of Jim’s photos:

PL89 7542a

PL93 7558a


So, thanks to Agent Jim for hunting this collection at Pencarrow, and another 65 trees for the PL postcode area. Good work.


This ‘Monkey Map’ project is a personal project and the work of me, Sarah Horton. I am helped by my task of cataloguing all monkeys by keen monkey puzzle hunters who also do this in their free time. It is a work of personal passion and brings me great joy. Thank you everyone for your support. 


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