[NAFEX] monkey puzzle

Mark Lee markl at nytec.com
Fri Apr 11 13:11:08 EDT 2003


There are a number of monkey puzzle trees growing in Seattle, yet I have
never seen one produce a cone.  The tree is very slow growing.  It can take
40 years to produce its first cone, and at this age the tree is typically
100 feet tall.  And only after this waiting period do you know if the tree
is male or female.  For reasons given below, I would like to try growing
monkey puzzle as a nut crop.  I want to overcome two problems with this
tree:
          100 feet is too tall in my neighborhood.
          40 years is too long to wait.

I have read that bark inversion, scoring and girdling have a dwarfing affect
while inducing flower bud initiation... smaller trees and earlier fruiting.
Any opinions on applying this technique to monkey puzzle?

Here is some facts about monkey puzzle nuts that starting me thinking...
http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Araucaria+araucana&CAN=LATIND
"Rich in starch, 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. Fairly large, the seeds are about the size of an
almond....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.  Plants grow best in S.W. England and along the
west coast of Britain where they produce seed regularly and abundantly.
Female cones take 2 - 3 years to mature and break up at the end of the year.
They contain up to 200 large seeds. Plants self-sow in Cornwall. 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... 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. 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."



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