Environment

Brazil’s iconic Araucaria tree edging toward extinction, says study

araucaria tree
An Araucaria tree juts out of Brazil’s misty Atlantic Forest. Photo: Douglas Scortegagna/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

For hundreds of thousands of years, the distinctive candelabra shape of Brazil’s Araucaria tree (Araucaria angustifolia) has defined landscapes on the southern edge of the country’s Atlantic forest. Humans have never known a world without these majestic evergreen specimens, but my latest research, conducted with colleagues in Brazil and Reading, suggests that their extinction could be just a generation or two away.

At first glance, you might mistake Brazil’s Araucaria for its sister species, the monkey puzzle tree, which is found in Chile and Argentina. But the two have inhabited South America as separate species for eons, after diverging...

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