Saturday, 19 January 2008

Monkey Puzzle

I had a short walk around the village hoping to come across some of our winter visitors, but very few birds were around. I did notice a couple of sights that interested me.

I've always like the look of Monkey Puzzle trees, although there don't seem to be that many around this area. Araucaria araucana (Pehuén or Monkey-puzzle) is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria. It is native to central Chile and west central Argentina, and is an evergreen tree growing to 40 m tall and 2 m trunk diameter. Because of species' great age it is sometimes described as a living fossil. Araucaria araucana is the national tree of Chile.

The origin of the popular English name Monkey-puzzle derives from its early cultivation in Britain in about 1850, when the species was still very rare in gardens and not widely known. The proud owner of a young specimen at Pencarrow garden near Bodmin in Cornwall was showing it to a group of friends, and one made the remark "It would puzzle a monkey to climb that"; as the species had no existing popular name, first 'monkey-puzzler', then 'monkey-puzzle' stuck (Mitchell 1996). As there are no monkeys in its native habitat it is not a puzzle that has needed to be solved.

Looking back towards the village from the fields behind Droveway Gardens the small satellite Rookery can be seen in the bare tree to the right of the church. The main Rookery seems to be in the evergreen Holm Oaks and the nests are difficult to see. It wont be long before the Rooks are collecting twigs to do the DIY they perform each year on the nests.
Looking the other direction there were a lot of Gulls, all Black-headed and Common, and corvids, Carrion Crows, Rooks and Jackdaws feeding in the damp fields, but no thrushes joined them and I couldn't find any feeding flocks of finches in any of the small wooded areas.

It looks like a few weeks of chaos in the High Street and Chapel Lane areas, lets hope the time doesn't drag out too much.

1 comment:

Island Rambles Blog said...

I always wondered about the Monkey Puzzle trees as we have one behind our street here...thanks for the info. I like this blog. Cheers.