Saturday, 25 September 2010

Who put the monkey in the monkey puzzle tree?

 This is a fine young specimen of  Araucaria araucana on Westwood Road, Beverley, I hope the people who live in this house realise that it will grow to 40m/130ft and live for 1000 years. To quote Wikipedia: "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."
I think I prefer the French  "désespoir des singes" or "monkeys' despair".
It's said by some that the devil sits in this tree (clearly he's not a monkey) and so you have to be quiet when passing these trees lest you attract the old Nick's attention and he gives you bad luck. You have been warned.

1 comment:

  1. In Norfolk, they plant this tree in cemeteries because apparently the devil CAN'T climb it. Nobody knows how the superstition about not talking near it came about, or why there are so many superstitions surrounding a tree that's such a recent addition to gardens.