The Curious Case of the Monkey-Puzzle Tree

Chantel Tattoli at The Believer:

The Telegraph has branded the monkey-puzzle a “love-it-or-loathe-it tree.” Tony Kirkham, Head of the Arboretum, Gardens, and Horticultural Services at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew confirmed as much by phone: “Mhm. We call it the Marmite Tree.” Whether you go for the monkey-puzzle depends on how you feel about a Tim Burton cover of Dr. Seuss’s Truffula. Its spiraling leaves are as sharp as shivs, and some people effuse that the species is a “fantastic product.” “It’s one of those few trees that you can’t climb,” Kirkham noted. (You certainly cannot hug it.) He thinks the tree is grand, and when I mentioned monkey-puzzles to my friend Mitch Owens, AD’s decorative arts editor, Owens told me, “I adore them.” Others report back on the boughs as “savage curlicues,” “a nightmare to work in and around.” On a plant that can reach 160 feet and live 2,000 years, those branches hold forth like topiarian antenna, sending/receiving who knows what to/from who knows what galaxy.

more here.