Araucaria araucana commonly called the monkey puzzle tree is a long lived native of the Chile and Argentina area we have been passing through. This tree was the main contributor to the carbon deposits of the Carboniferous period 300m years ago and now only has remnants of forest left. This is in part due to the logging that occurred until the mid 1970s until the species was protected. When we saw the first specimen on the road from Las Lajas to San Martin de los Andes we were in awe of this huge trunk with a small umbrella of greenery and couldn’t believe it was related to the “monkey puzzle” that we know. These dioecious trees do not become sexually mature until about 40 and we saw the young adult trees, females bearing the huge cones and the males golden pollen buds. This tree can live for over 1000 years.
Some times as you cruise along on these gravel and sand roads your mind takes you somewhere else, and these trees had my mind in turmoil as to the actual definition of a gymnosperm, but the sheer drop offs from slippery badly cambered corners occasionally brings you back to the present. I now know gymno = naked + sperm= seed because the seed is not encased in a fruit.
Then we came into this gorgeous little touristy town un believably like Queenstown and washed my socks and went to an Irish Pub