It’s personal

This Monkey Map project is a personal passion of mine, and as you – my regular readers – all know, I am struggling to keep up with the amount of finds I am receiving. Which is good, because it means that there are lots of ‘us’ who are passionate about monkey puzzle trees, and part of that passion is to map them.

A rainy day today and I spent all day updating the spreadsheet with January’s finds, which brings the catalogue up to 2,970 trees.

There is one tree though that I particularly want to feature and this is a very personal tree. And, what’s more, I don’t even have a real photo of it, just Google (which as you know I will no longer accept). However, this tree is special.



This is Robbie’s tree, LL72, in Colwyn Bay. It’s in the garden of his childhood home. Robbie, who is now also known as Agent Cinephile, wrote, ‘From my bedroom window I watched nesting doves in the tree, it’s a very special tree led to everything I am.’ Robbie is (amongst other things) a passionate and knowledgeable horticulturalist, a  skilled propagator and also has his own botanic garden in North Wales  – Fossil Plants.

Robbie’s comment really reinforced for me that this is personal. It reminded me of visiting Ness Gardens with my father, where there is a monkey puzzle tree, and the hours we spent looking for newts. The hours we spent collecting frogspawn and watched it miraculously turn into frogs. It reminded me that when my father died I observed a big beetle in the garden and felt lost without him to turn to ask about it. It reminded me that I love nature. It reminded me that our fascination with the natural world and our connection to it is special. It makes us realise how fragile we are.

And so whatever happens to this project – recognising it’s too big for me to manage on my own – I really want to retain that sense of personal passion.

Here are a couple more personal trees.

Neil Brookes in Sutton Coldfield planted this tree in 1983, it’s now 25 foot high, protected by a TPO from May 2015, as he is moving  housed wanted the tree to remain for posterity.




Agent John in Fife has been ‘collecting’ monkey puzzle trees for a number of years before he found my site, and was elevated to ‘Agent’ status. He has continued to add trees in several postcode areas – notably DD, FK, LA, ML, PH, PR, SR and ZE, and was an enthusiastic contributor to the postcode challenge. It is thanks to John that all postcodes in the north of England are represented. In fact, just over 8% of the catalogue are John’s finds. This is one at Creich Castle in Fife.



John made it his personal mission to find trees in Shetland (ZE), and with the help of spies has managed eight trees, and the Monkey Map committee have allowed the Google images (on this occasion). Thanks John for your enthusiasm.

Also, a couple of interesting international finds – which are Araucaria, but not monkey puzzle trees.

This is from Neil Robinson whilst visiting Buenos Aries, he spotted three trees in the cemetery where Eva Peron is buried.

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

I wasn’t sure that these were in fact monkey puzzle trees, so thanks to Twitter Agent Cinephile was able to help out with the ID. They are Paraná pines,  Araucaria angustifolia (also known as Brazilian pine or candelabra tree, native to southern Brazil). Agent Cinephile tells me they are an endangered species that is marginally hardy here in UK. So thank you Neil for your submission (very correctly done on the submissions form) and your interest in the project.

Colin Thornton in New Zealand has been busy playing golf (his last find was on Tauhara golf course in Taupo), and he sent this photo of a group of four trees from Sherwood Golf Course in Maunu:

Sherwood Golf Course

Sherwood Golf Course, Maunu, Whangarei, New Zealand.

The tree on the left is different to the others, which are Norfolk Island pines, or Araucaria heterophylla. Native to Norfolk Island ( a small island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia) this tree is a popular cultivated species, either as a single tree or in avenues, and are planted abundantly as ornamental trees in warm countries the world over. (As a relative of monkey puzzle trees I’ve featured them before in this post – you’ll find them at the end of the post).

In the grouping above Agent Cinephile has identified the fourth tree as Araucaria bidwillii, or Bunya pine, as named by Europeans. (Known as bunyabonyebunyi or bunya-bunya in various Australian Aboriginal languages). Wikipedia tells me it is commonly referred to as the “false monkey puzzle”, so not surprising it was sent in. Thanks Colin. 

Thank you Agent Cinephile – both those tree IDs have increased my Araucaria knowledge for sure! It is a great delight to be part of such an informed and interested group of people, and share knowledge. 

So, as for the Monkey Map – I am now exploring a particularly interesting potential collective solution. This will ensure that all trees can still have a place here, and that the personal passion will be very much part of this too. Thank you everyone for your personal passion.


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.

To add your trees to the catalogue please use the form on the submissions page.

If using Twitter to send me photos please remember to send me the postcode as well as location. Thank you.


One thought on “It’s personal

  1. Hello Sarah! I just want to say that the Araucarias in the Buenos Aires picture are not Parana pines, but actually Araucaria bidwillii, or bunya-bunyas. These are a quite common tree found in public areas in Buenos Aires.
    Wich makes the Araucaria in the second picture an Araucaria angustifolia, known as Parana Pine or Brazilian Pine! How can you tell the difference? Well, first of all, Parana pines have a flatter crown than the Monkey puzzle, while the bunyas have a conical shape, Think of Parana pines as “flatheads” and bunyas as “coneheads”. The bunya’s branches are thinner than the parana pine’s, and its leaf tufts are more “droopy”, while the angustifolia’s tufts are more rounder and denser. Parana pines have their branches whorls more apart from each other than the bunyas.

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