The monkey puzzle tree is a common sight across Wales, in gardens, parks and churchyards.
The tallest and most mature can be traced back to the original introduction by Archibald Menzies, who practised medicine in Caernarfon before setting sail on HMS Discovery. These majestic specimens are native to the Andes Mountains of Argentina and Chile. Sitting above the timberline, about 1,800 metres, the magnificent specimens are symbolic of the region’s montane flora. However, despite being well adapted to the volatile climate, with heavy snow, volcanic eruptions, and landslides being an ever-present risk, it is human activities that threaten their existence in the wild. Fire, grazing and encroachment by commercial forestry are all tangible threats to their survival.
Here at the Botanic Garden, we have partnered with the Conifer Conservation International Programme to provide refuge. Within the Arboretum, you will see many specimens, each grown from seed and represent distinct populations. The presence of such genetic variation is an important tool for conservation.