This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I send you by this mail two broken cones of the Araucaria imbricata from a tree on our place which is fifteen years old, 20 to 25 feet high, and in its third year of bearing. I can find no seed in the cones and would like to have you "try your luck" in the same direction and report the result.
I know of only one other tree of it in our section - on the premises of Mr. M. Newbrick, of Mobile - and this and mine originated from seed grown at Langdon, both trees being of same age, Mr. Newbrick's tree being perhaps a few feet the taller. Our tree is somewhat misshapen, from the effects of a freeze about seven years ago, when the weight of ice on the foliage broke down the branches on one side; they have never grown out to fill the vacancy. Mr. Newbrick's tree, never having sustained such an injury, is "a thing of beauty".
These two specimens amply testify that it will grow from seed, with proper treatment under favorable circumstances, but we have not been able to procure seed of it. Is there any other way to propagate it? If yes, please let me know the process as much in detail as to stocks, season of working and other particulars as may be consistent with propriety and your knowledge of facts.
[The cones were immature, not half the size of perfect ones. The seeds are as large as chestnuts and there would be no difficulty in seeing them where they exist. There were probably no male flowers to fertilize them. In forthcoming years you will probably be more successful. In England the tree has been fruiting for several years past, and seedlings are raised from the home grown seeds. In the moist atmosphere of that country evergreens endure a lower temperature without injury than they do in our dry climate, it now being well understood that the death of these trees by frost is rather by the loss of moisture induced by the temperature, than by the degree of temperature itself. The demand for this tree in America is so light that seedsmen do not keep the seed on hand, but some of those who make a specialty of tree seeds procure them when definite orders are given. Native seeds have to be obtained from Chili. Araucaria excelsa has been raised by the writer from cuttings, in the same way that evergreen cuttings generally are raised, and probably A. imbricata could be raised in the same way. A few could perhaps be raised by grafting on pieces of its own roots.
There is nothing under culture that would do for a stock.
Its common name is Chili Pine, and it will be a good thing if the remarks of Mr. Langdon draw enough attention to induce the planting of this remarkably beautiful coniferae whenever there are not more than five or ten degrees of frost to interfere with it. - Ed. G. M].