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Temporal range: Middle Jurassic–Recent
Araucaria araucana South America
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Gymnospermae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Araucariales
Family: Araucariaceae
Genus: Araucaria
Type species
Araucaria araucana [1]
  • Altingia Don 1830 non Noronha 1785
  • Dombeya De Lamarck 1786 non L'Héritier de Brutelle 1785
  • Columbea Salisbury 1807 nom. ill.
  • Eutassa Salisbury 1807 non Broun 1909
  • Eutacta Link 1842
  • Quadrifaria Manetti ex Gordon 1862
  • Marywildea Bobrov & Melikian 2006
  • Titanodendron Bobrov & Melikian 2006

Araucaria ( /ærɔːˈkɛəriə/; original pronunciation: [a.ɾawˈka. ɾja])[2] is a genus of evergreen coniferous trees in the family Araucariaceae. While today they are largely confined to the Southern Hemisphere, during the Jurassic and Cretaceous they were distributed globally. There are 20 extant species in New Caledonia (where 14 species are endemic, see New Caledonian Araucaria), Norfolk Island, eastern Australia, New Guinea, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.


Araucaria araucana with seed cones

Araucaria are mainly large trees with a massive erect stem, reaching a height of 5–80 metres (16–262 ft). The horizontal, spreading branches grow in whorls and are covered with leathery or needle-like leaves. In some species, the leaves are narrow, awl-shaped and lanceolate, barely overlapping each other; in others they are broad and flat, and overlap broadly.[3]

The trees are mostly dioecious, with male and female cones found on separate trees,[4] though occasional individuals are monoecious or change sex with time.[5] The female cones, usually high on the top of the tree, are globose, and vary in size among species from 7 to 25 centimetres (2.8 to 9.8 in) diameter. They contain 80–200 large edible seeds, similar to pine nuts, though larger. The male cones are smaller, 4–10 cm (1.6–3.9 in) long, and narrow to broad cylindrical, 1.5–5.0 cm (0.6–2.0 in) broad.

The genus is familiar to many people as the genus of the distinctive Chilean pine or monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana). The genus is named after the Spanish exonym Araucano ("from Arauco") applied to the Mapuche of south-central Chile and south-west Argentina, whose territory incorporates natural stands of this genus. The Mapuche people call it pehuén, and consider it sacred.[3] Some Mapuche living in the Andes name themselves Pehuenche ("people of the pehuén") as they traditionally harvested the seeds extensively for food.[6][7]

No distinct vernacular name exists for the genus. Many are called "pine", although they are only distantly related to true pines, in the genus Pinus.

Distribution and paleoecology[edit]

Three members of the genus growing together – left to right, A. columnaris, A. cunninghamii and A. bidwillii

Members of Araucaria are found in Argentina, Brazil, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Australia, New Guinea, Chile and Papua (Indonesia).[8] Many if not all current populations are relicts, and of restricted distribution. They are found in forest and maquis shrubland, with an affinity for exposed sites. The earliest records of the genus date to the Middle Jurassic, represented by Araucaria mirabilis of Argentina, and Araucaria sphaerocarpa from England. Fossil records show that the genus also formerly occurred in the northern hemisphere until the end of the Cretaceous period.[9]

By far the greatest diversity exists in New Caledonia, likely due to a relatively recent adaptive radiation, as all New Caledonian species are more closely related to each other than they are to other Araucaria.[9][3] Much of New Caledonia is composed of ultramafic rock with serpentine soils, with low levels of nutrients, but high levels of metals such as nickel.[10] Consequently, its endemic Araucaria species are adapted to these conditions, and many species have been severely affected by nickel mining in New Caledonia and are now considered threatened or endangered, due to their habitat lying in prime areas for nickel mining activities.

Some evidence suggests that the long necks of sauropod dinosaurs may have evolved specifically to browse the foliage of tall trees, including those of Araucaria. An analysis of modern Araucaria leaves found that they have a high energy content but are slow fermenting, making their ancestors a likely attractive target.[11]

Classification and species list[edit]

A. columnaris sapling with distinctive apical bud.

There are four extant sections and two extinct sections in the genus, sometimes treated as separate genera.[3][12][13]

Phylogeny of Araucaria[14][15]

A. hunsteinii Schum.


A. bidwillii Hooker


A. angustifolia (Bertoloni) Kuntze

A. araucana (Molina) Koch


A. cunninghamii Aiton ex A.Cunn.

A. heterophylla (Salisbury) Franco

A. muelleri (Carrière) Brongniart & Gris

A. bernieri Buchholz

A. subulata Vieillard

A. biramulata Buchholz

A. schmidii de Laubenfels

A. montana Brongniart & Gris

A. scopulorum de Laubenfels

A. laubenfelsii Corbasson

A. humboldtensis Buchholz

A. rulei von Mueller

A. luxurians (Brongniart & Gris) de Laubenfels

A. nemorosa de Laubenfels

A. columnaris (Forster) Hooker


Extant species[edit]

Section Image Leaves Name Distribution
Section Araucaria Wilde and Eames, 1952 Araucaria angustifolia – Paraná pine southern and southeastern Brazil, northeastern Argentina.
Araucaria araucana – monkey-puzzle or pehuén central Chile & western Argentina.
Section Bunya Wilde and Eames, 1952[16] Araucaria bidwilliibunya-bunya Eastern Australia
Section Intermedia White, 1947 Araucaria hunsteiniiklinki New Guinea
Section Eutacta Endl. 1847
Araucaria bernieri New Caledonia
Araucaria biramulata New Caledonia
Araucaria columnaris - Cook pine New Caledonia
Araucaria cunninghamii - Moreton Bay pine, hoop pine Eastern Australia, New Guinea
Araucaria goroensis New Caledonia
Araucaria heterophylla – Norfolk Island pine Norfolk Island
Araucaria humboldtensis New Caledonia
Araucaria laubenfelsii New Caledonia
Araucaria luxurians New Caledonia
Araucaria montana New Caledonia
Araucaria muelleri New Caledonia
Araucaria nemorosa New Caledonia
Araucaria rulei New Caledonia
Araucaria schmidii New Caledonia
Araucaria scopulorum New Caledonia
Araucaria subulata New Caledonia

Genetic studies[edit]

Petrified cone of Araucaria mirabilis from Patagonia, Argentina dating from the Jurassic Period (approx. 157 mya)

Genetic studies indicate that the extant members of the genus can be subdivided into two large clades – the first consisting of the sections Araucaria, Bunya, and Intermedia; and the second of the strongly monophyletic section Eutacta. Sections Eutacta and Bunya are both the oldest taxa of the genus, with Eutacta possibly older.[17]

Taxa marked with are extinct.

Araucaria bindrabunensis (previously classified under section Bunya) has been transferred to the genus Araucarites.


Some of the species are relatively common in cultivation because of their distinctive, formal symmetrical growth habit. Several species are economically important for timber production.


The edible large seeds of A. araucana, A. angustifolia and A. bidwillii — also known as Araucaria nuts,[24] and often called, although improperly, pine nuts — are eaten as food, particularly among the Mapuche people of Chile and southwest Argentina, the Kaingang people in Southern Brazil and among Native Australians.[3] In South America Araucaria nuts or seeds are called piñas or piñones in Spanish and pinhões in Portuguese, like pine nuts in Europe.

Pharmacological activity[edit]

Pharmacological reports on genus Araucaria are anti-ulcer, antiviral, neuro-protective, anti-depressant and anti-coagulant.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ K. D. Hill (1998). "Araucaria". Flora of Australia Online. Australian Biological Resources Study. Archived from the original on May 14, 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  2. ^ "araucaria". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  3. ^ a b c d e Christopher J. Earle (12 December 2010). "Araucaria Jussieu 1789". The Gymnosperm Database. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  4. ^ "Practical seedling growing: Growing Araucaria from seeds". Arboretum de Villardebelle. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  5. ^ Michael G. Simpson (2010). Plant Systematics. Academic Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-12-374380-0.
  6. ^ "Araucaria columnaris". National Tropical Botanical Garden. Archived from the original on 16 June 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  7. ^ Francisco P. Moreno (November 2004). "Pehuenches: "The people from the Araucarias forests"". Museo de la Patagonia. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  8. ^ The Pine Trees of Lanai
  9. ^ a b c Stockey, Ruth A.; Rothwell, Gar W. (July 2020). "Diversification of crown group Araucaria : the role of Araucaria famii sp. nov. in the Late Cretaceous (Campanian) radiation of Araucariaceae in the Northern Hemisphere". American Journal of Botany. 107 (7): 1072–1093. doi:10.1002/ajb2.1505. ISSN 0002-9122. PMID 32705687.
  10. ^ "Maquis plants". October 13, 2013.
  11. ^ Jürgen Hummel; Carole T. Gee; Karl-Heinz Südekum; P. Martin Sander; Gunther Nogge; Marcus Clauss (2008). "In vitro digestibility of fern and gymnosperm foliage: implications for sauropod feeding ecology and diet selection". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 275 (1638): 1015–1021. doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.1728. PMC 2600911. PMID 18252667.
  12. ^ Michael Black; H. W. Pritchard (2002). Desiccation and survival in plants: Drying without dying. CAB International. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-85199-534-2.
  13. ^ James E. Eckenwalder (2009). Conifers of the World: the Complete Reference. Timber Press. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-88192-974-4.
  14. ^ Stull, Gregory W.; Qu, Xiao-Jian; Parins-Fukuchi, Caroline; Yang, Ying-Ying; Yang, Jun-Bo; Yang, Zhi-Yun; Hu, Yi; Ma, Hong; Soltis, Pamela S.; Soltis, Douglas E.; Li, De-Zhu; Smith, Stephen A.; Yi, Ting-Shuang; et al. (2021). "Gene duplications and phylogenomic conflict underlie major pulses of phenotypic evolution in gymnosperms". Nature Plants. 7 (8): 1015–1025. bioRxiv 10.1101/2021.03.13.435279. doi:10.1038/s41477-021-00964-4. PMID 34282286. S2CID 232282918.
  15. ^ Stull, Gregory W.; et al. (2021). "main.dated.supermatrix.tree.T9.tre". Figshare. doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.14547354.v1.
  16. ^ Wilde, Mary Hitchcock; Eames, Arthur J. (1955). "The Ovule and 'Seed' of Araucaria Bidwillii with Discussion of the Taxonomy of the Genus: III. Anatomy of Multi-ovulate Gone Scales". Annals of Botany. 19 (75). Oxford University Press: 343–349. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.aob.a083433. eISSN 1095-8290. ISSN 0305-7364. JSTOR 42907286. Retrieved 2022-11-13.
  17. ^ a b Hiroaki Setoguchi; Takeshi Asakawa Osawa; Jean-Cristophe Pintaud; Tanguy Jaffré; Jean-Marie Veillon (1998). "Phylogenetic relationships within Araucariaceae based on rbcL gene sequences". American Journal of Botany. 85 (11): 1507–1516. doi:10.2307/2446478. JSTOR 2446478. PMID 21680310.
  18. ^ Mary E. Dettmann; H. Trevor Clifford (2005). "Biogeography of Araucariaceae" (PDF). In J. Dargavel (ed.). Australia and New Zealand Forest Histories. Araucaria Forests. Occasional Publication 2. Australian Forest History Society. pp. 1–9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-09-13.
  19. ^ Erich Götz (1980). Pteridophytes and Gymnosperms. Springer. p. 295. ISBN 978-3-540-51794-8.
  20. ^ Cookson, Isabel C.; Duigan, Suzanne L. (1951). "Tertiary Araucariaceae From South-Eastern Australia, With Notes on Living Species". Australian Journal of Biological Sciences. 4 (4): 415–49. doi:10.1071/BI9510415.
  21. ^ Araucaria marensii at
  22. ^ Vizcaíno, Sergio F.; Kay, Richard F.; Bargo, M. Susana (2012). "Araucaria+marensii"&pg=PA112 Early Miocene Paleobiology in Patagonia: High-Latitude Paleocommunities of the Santa Cruz Formation. Cambridge University Press. p. 112. ISBN 9781139576413. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  23. ^ Pole, Mike (2008). "The record of Araucariaceae macrofossils in New Zealand". Alcheringa. 32 (4): 405–26. Bibcode:2008Alch...32..405P. doi:10.1080/03115510802417935. S2CID 128903229.
  24. ^ Québec Amerique, ed. (1996). "Pine nut". The Visual Food Encyclopedia. p. 280. ISBN 9782764408988.
  25. ^ Aslam, M.S.; Ijaz, A.S. (2013). "Phytochemical and ethno-pharmacological review of the genus Araucaria". Journal of Tropical Pharmaceutical Research. Review Article. 12 (4): 651–659. doi:10.4314/tjpr.v12i4.31.

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