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Whats in a name? The story of Monkey Puzzle Jewellery

February 26, 2015 Martin Bray


In 1997 Allison decided to change the emphasis in her shop from crystals to jewellery. A major re-fit ensued and we then sat down at the kitchen table to decide on a name. Martin was fond of monkeys so out came the dictionary and up popped monkey business, monkey wrench, monkey nuts and monkey puzzle. The first three were plainly inappropriate so we looked more closely at monkey puzzle the tree.

In South America the monkey puzzle, an evergreen tree grows to 40m(130ft) tall with a 2m(7ft) trunk diameter. The tree is wind pollenated, but does not produce seeds until it is 30 to 40 years old. These are a popular food sauce and easily harvested as they drop to the ground. A single male with six females in Scotland produces thousands of seeds a year.
The Pinus Araucana was first discovered in Chile in 1780 and was introduced to Britain in approximately 1850 when our ambassador returned home with some seeds. Shortly after that when a proud owner of a young tree was showing it to friends one remarked that it would puzzle a monkey to climb that tree. Hence the name! Chilean pine was highly fashionable in Britain in the late 19th Century.

In Britain the tree thrives in the temperate climate with abundant rain. Whilst tolerant of coastal sea salt it succumbs in areas of pollution. Mainly found in western Scotland, Wales, west and south west England specimens of the tree are to be found everywhere. Worldwide numbers are declining with the result that the tree has been listed as an endangered species.
The monkey puzzle tree is the closest relative to the tree that millions of years ago died and over the intervening period turned into Amber and Jet. A clear link between the name and jewellery!Because of the great age of the species, the monkey puzzle is sometimes described as a living fossil?

We were once confused with a toy shop of the same name and are aware of the Monkey Puzzle pub in Paddington, the Monkey Puzzle restaurant in Farnborough and a network of Monkey Puzzle nurseries throughout the UK.

Are there any other Monkey Puzzles that anyone knows about?


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