Besides a killer waterfront view, Mare Island has many perks. One being the incredible piece of history that every building, road and yes, even tree has. Last week a huge Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana) fell in half. For how horrible the structure of that tree was, it’s shocking that it had lasted 110 years.

Monkey Puzzle Trees are native to South America, they are the national tree of Chile, and are not the most common conifers to run across in California. However, after one glance and a single touch of its razor sharp needles, you will never forget it.

Besides its name, the history of this particular tree is also interesting. In the photo above, see that building in the background? That’s the Abraham Lincoln building in which Abraham Lincoln himself approved the blueprints only 2 days prior to his assassination. The building has been vacant for decades, but it was an old military hospital at one point. The navy planted California Fan Palms in pairs from the water to the hospital as a guide so men could go from the ship at night. Legend has it, when they saw the Monkey Puzzle Tree they knew they were at the right building.

After cutting the tree’s trunk into 4 large pieces, we brought in our special log loader from our East Bay Office and delivered it to Erick Granberg of Granberg International to be milled for specialty wood projects.

At A Plus Tree, we know a tree is much more than a plant or even a line item on a budget sheet. Each tree has its own story. We try to honor these memories not only in our tree care approach but even after the tree has lived its life cycle. Neither Erick or I have seen a Monkey Puzzle Tree milled before, but we couldn’t think of a better way to honor this tree’s life and the landmark of hope it stood for in front of that navel hospital.

Blog by: Jeremy TIbbets