The evergreen tree that outlasted the dinosaurs is now endangered | CNN

New documentary “Patagonia: Life at the Edge of the World” explores one of the wildest places on Earth. A six-part series is available CNNgo. You can also access CNNgo through our CNN app.


The ancient monkey puzzle tree has distinctive spiny leaves and intricate scaly branches. Its unusual features, scientists believe, Evolved as a defense against tall, long-necked dinosaurs.

Evergreen, up to 160 feet (48.8 m) tall and capable of living for millennia The tree is a survivor from the Jurassic era, 145 million years ago.

Araucaria araucana outlasted the dinosaurs, but today’s scientific experts Suppose the tree is in danger. Cultivated monkey puzzle trees grow in parks and gardens around the world, but in the wild this species only grows on the volcanic slopes of Patagonia in Chile and Argentina.

Fire, land clearing, overgrazing and logging have reduced the temperate forest where the monkey kodi tree grows. Its large seeds are also a valuable food source Endemic species of birds, Austral Parakeet

Green parrots, in flocks of about 15 birds, fly from tree to tree to find a good place for wintering. When the birds hit the jackpot, their numbers can grow to more than 100, and they munch on the monkey puzzle pine nuts.

Looting Parakeets, despite their insatiable appetite for nuts, can help monkey puzzle trees survive in Patagonia. Recent research found

Scientists say the birds act as a buffer against the threat posed by overharvesting of human nuts.

Parakeets typically pick up pine nuts and eat them from treetop perches dozens of feet away. Often, birds only partially eat the seeds.

In fact, partial removal of the seed coat by parakeets increased the germination rate of monkey puzzle seeds. According to a 2018 study.

“They (parakeets) play an important role in the regeneration of Araucaria forests because the half-eaten seeds left on the ground are not picked by seed collectors and they retain their germination capacity,” explained two study authors, Gabriela. Glaser and Karina Speziale, researchers from Argentina Biodiversity and Environment Research Institute at Comahue National University.

What’s more, he said via email, parakeets disperse seeds, meaning the plants regenerate away from the mother plant.

Tracks and specials Parakeets are also investigating whether females pollinate cones as they flutter from branch to branch.

Parakeets aren’t the only nut eaters. They are also a traditional source of Chilean food and Argentina’s indigenous Mapuche people, who skillfully climb monumental trees to collect the seeds and grind them into flour that can be baked into bread. The nuts, which are larger than almonds, are widely consumed in the two countries, particularly in Chile.

Petrona Pelao walks among the Araucaria trees in the Mapuche community of Ruca Choroi, Argentina.

The Mapuche have the right to collect nuts in their ancestral areas; Beyond this, however, local authorities restrict the amount of nuts that can be collected for personal and commercial purposes and require a permit, Glazer and Speziale said.

“Despite this, many illegal collectors exist who collect without respecting collection limits,” the researchers added.

“Represents an important threat to human seed collection (). Reproduction of the monkey puzzle tree in populations available to the public, as illegal seed collectors nearly deplete the seed pool created by the trees.”

However, nuts damaged by parakeets are discarded by collectors, so partially eaten nuts may still germinate.

The Mapuche way of life is intertwined with the monkey puzzle the tree However, during the colonial period and until the 1990s, when industrial loggers stripped the land of Araucaria trees, that bond was almost broken. Demanding legal protection for the species, the Mapuche clashed with plantations and the Chilean government. Monkeys are puzzle trees Now protected by law in Patagonia.

Monkey puzzle trees can grow up to 160 feet tall and live for 1,000 years.

“The Araucaria are the same as the Mapuche people … even if they are mistreated, beaten, we are all strong,” Petrona Pelao, a member of the Mapuche indigenous group, said in the CNN documentary. “Patagonia: Life at the Edge of the World.”

Mapuche are now Replanting Araucaria trees and rediscovering their ancient ancestral practices. The goal is to help the Mapuche cultivate pine nuts sustainably and allow Araucaria trees to flourish once again.

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