We were back in Rayleigh for an appointment this morning, and we dutifully walked the High Street for a bit of shopping and browsing. As always, we stopped to admire the huge Monkey Puzzle Tree at the junction of Bellingham Lane and London Hill. (We actually took these photos last week when the weather was nicer — today was drizzly and bleak, and not a day for good photographs.)
Araucaria araucana is native to a small area in Chile and Argentina, but grows well here in England. It can grow as high as 50 feet, and produces large spiny cones containing many edible seeds.Sir Edward Menzies first brought them here in 1795, and they have been popular with gardeners ever since. Their unusual nickname comes from an observation by Charles Austin that “it would puzzle a monkey to climb that” and they have been called Monkey Puzzle Trees ever since.