Park’s view changes as tree is felled

The monkey puzzle tree coming down.
The monkey puzzle tree coming down.

AN exotic tree that has been in Morpeth for more than 80 years has been removed after it became unhealthy.

Workers from Northumberland County Council have taken out the dying monkey puzzle from Carlisle Park as it could have posed a safety risk.

Regular tree inspections are carried out as part of the authority’s woodland management strategy and if there are any problems, the experts highlight any issues or actions which need to be taken.

Very careful consideration was given to the fate of the female tree. It was becoming unsightly and due to its condition there were concerns that branches could have started to break, or even that it could have fallen down.

A local resident has been growing saplings from the seed of the tree, so there are plans to plant a new one in the park as a replacement.

Coun Alan Thompson, executive member responsible for parks maintenance at the county council, said: “It is always extremely sad when we have to remove a mature tree from council parks or land.

“It is important, however, that we ensure that tree stock is healthy and well managed.

“Unhealthy trees can become unsightly but also potentially unsafe. I am very pleased that some saplings are being grown from seed from the tree, and so will be able to replace it in the near future.”

Monkey puzzles, or Araucaria Araucana, are native to Chile, where the seeds are an ancient part of the staple diet of the Pehuenche people. The species is more than 200 million years old.

It is said to have been introduced to Britain by a plant hunter who pocketed some nuts he was given as a dessert during a banquet in the South American country. These trees have been planted in parks and gardens across the world for their ornamental and distinctive shape.

There is another Monkey Puzzle in Carlisle Park – a male – and parks staff are monitoring its condition closely.