These were seen in London quite a lot in the 1950’s but now disappeared.
These two taken in Marlock, Derbyshire, U.K.
Apparently, these type of trees were the mainstay of the ancient forests that covered Britain and the near continent and are, according to some, the fossilised remains of these type of trees that comprise of Whitby Jet.
Camera: Olympus SP-570UZ
Araucaria araucana (popularly called the Monkey-puzzle Tree or Monkey Tail Tree) is an evergreen tree growing up to 40 metres (130 ft) tall with a 2 metres (7 ft) trunk diameter. The tree is now only native to central and southern Chile, western Argentina and south Brazil. Araucaria araucana is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria. Because of the species’s great age it is sometimes described as a living fossil. Its seeds are edible, similar to large pine nuts, and are extensively harvested in Chile and Brazil. The tree has some potential to be a food crop in other areas in the future, thriving in climates with cool oceanic summers (e.g. western Scotland) where other nut crops do not grow well. A group of six female trees with one male for pollination could yield several thousand seeds per year. Since the cones drop, harvesting is easy. The tree however does not yield seeds until it is around 30–40 years old, which discourages investment in planting orchards (although yields at maturity can be immense); once established, it can live possibly as long as 1,000 years (Gymnosperm Database). Once valued because of its long, straight trunk, its current rarity and vulnerable status mean its wood is now rarely used; it is also sacred to some members of the Mapuche Native American tribe. Araucaria araucana is the national tree of Chile.
Araucaria araucana is a popular garden tree, planted for its unusual effect of the thick, ‘reptilian’ branches with a very symmetrical appearance. It prefers temperate climates with abundant rainfall, tolerating temperatures down to about −20 °C (−4 °F). It is far and away the hardiest member of its genus, and can grow well in western Europe (north to the Faroe Islands and Smøla in western Norway), the west coast of North America (north to the Queen Charlotte Islands in Canada) and locally on the east coast as well.
In Britain before 1850, it had been known as “Joseph Bank’s Pine” or “Chile Pine”, though it is not a true pine.
The origin of the popular English language 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.