Definition of monkey puzzle in English:

monkey puzzle

(also monkey puzzle tree)


  • An evergreen coniferous tree with branches covered in spirals of tough spiny leaf-like scales, native to Chile.

    • ‘Logging and agricultural development have reduced the distribution of Chile's famed national tree - the monkey puzzle tree - to three small areas of the country.’
    • ‘Meyer outlines global problems, and then as evidence of how grim the cause of conservation is, he lists dire stories of individual species like red squirrels and monkey puzzle trees.’
    • ‘A 40 ft monkey puzzle tree with branches only at the top of the trunk provided just the right amount of shade for three sun-loving cricket fans.’
    • ‘The tree which was stolen was an araucaria, or monkey puzzle, which was planted in memory of Maurice by his family.’
    • ‘The stubborn resistance of the Araucanians, who lent their name to the monkey puzzle tree and delighted in its piñons, left a strong Indian influence.’


Mid 19th century: said to be so named in response to a remark that an attempt to climb the tree would puzzle a monkey.


monkey puzzle