Tree to 35–40 m, 1.5 m dbh, with single straight trunk. Bark scaly, with horizontal striations. Branches in whorls of four to eight, dying from base as tree ages to leave a flat-topped crown of gaunt appearance. Leaves loosely imbricate, lanceolate, 2–6 0.5–0.8 cm, apex acute, leathery and stiff, dark green or glaucous, shorter and more spirally arranged on fertile shoots. Male strobili borne on short fertile shoots, forming dense erect cones to 8–20 1.3–2 cm. Female cones wider than long, narrowing from the centre towards the tip, 12 cm 16 cm, each scale with stout recurved appendage. Seeds edible, cuneiform, 3 cm long, chestnut-coloured. Dallimore et al. 1966, Krüssmann 1985b, Silba 1986, Covas 1995. Distribution BRAZIL: southeast; ARGENTINA: northeast. Habitat Mixed forest between 500 and 2300 m asl on acidic, laterite soils with up to 1500 mm rain p/a. USDA Hardiness Zone 8–9. Conservation status Critically Endangered, due to logging. Illustration NT22. Cross-reference K51.
Araucaria angustifolia resembles a smaller-leaved, less tidy A. araucana when young and is obviously closely related to that species, with apparent intermediates occurring in parts of Chile (S. Hogan, pers. comm. 2007). Older reference works suggest that it is not hardy in the United Kingdom (Dallimore et al. 1966) but recent experience suggests that it is well worth trying – even in less favoured situations than Cornwall! It is true that the finest specimens known at present in the United Kingdom are just over that county’s boundary, at Casa di Sole in Devon, where there are three of 6, 7 and 8.7 m (in 2006), doing well though looking spindly (TROBI), but other good examples are known. Another 6 m specimen was growing vigorously until recently in Tony Titchen’s garden at Portishead, Somerset, before it was snapped off at the base by a falling tree, and there are vigorous young individuals both at Nymans, in East Sussex, and at Peasmarsh Place, West Sussex. The latter was 3.5 m in 2006, having been planted only in 2001. It was collected as seed in Brazil by Lord Devonport. Young trees have been seen in an ordinary garden centre in Gloucestershire, and it is available in specialist nurseries in Europe and North America. It would seem to be worth trying in the mild parts of maritime Europe and western North America.