Araucaria angustifolia / Paraná pine

Araucaria angustifolia, as described in 1898 by (Antonio Bertoloni) Carl Ernst Otto Kuntze (1843–1907) in Revisio Generum Plantarum, 3rd edition, is commonly known as the Paraná pine, Brazilian pine or candelabra tree; as well as pinheiro-do-paraná and pinheiro brasileiro in the Portuguese language. Although the common names in various languages refer to the species as a "pine," it is not a true pine at all.


Description. Paraná pine is an evergreen coniferous species of tree which grows to mature heights of 130 feet (40 m); with a 3 foot (1 m) wide trunk, measured at breast height. The crown becomes flat-topped with age.

  • Bark is finely scaly and resinous, with horizontal striation.
  • Branchlets are arranged in whorls of 4 to 8.
  • Leaves are thick, tough, scale-like, and triangular, measuring 1.2 to 2.4 inches (3 – 6 cm) long by 0.2 to 0.4 inch (5 – 10 mm) broad at the base, and with razor-sharp edges and tips. They persist 10 to 15 years and cover most of the tree except for the trunk and older branches.

It is usually dioecious, with male and female cones occurring on separate trees.

  • Pollen cones are oblong shaped, measuring 2.4 inches (6 cm) long at first, expanding to 4 to 7 inches (10 – 18 cm) long by 0.6 to 1 inch (15 – 25 mm) broad at the time of pollen release. Like all conifers it is wind pollinated.
  • Seed cones, which mature in autumn roughly 18 months after pollination. They have are large and globose, measuring 7 to 10 inches (18 – 25 cm) in diameter, holding about 100 to 150 seeds. The cones disintegrate at maturity to release the approximately 2 inch (5 cm) long nut-like seeds, which are then dispersed by animals, notably the azure jay, Cyanocorax caeruleus.

It is closely related to Araucaria araucana from further southwest in South America, differing most conspicuously in the narrower leaves.

<em>Araucaria angustifolia </em>seeds, called pinhão, are popular as a winter snack
Araucaria angustifolia seeds, called pinhão, are popular as a winter snack

The seeds, similar to large pine nuts, are edible, and extensively harvested in southern Brazil, a tradition particularly important for the region's small population of indigenous Americans. The seeds, called pinhão [piˈɲɐ̃w̃] are popular as a winter snack. The city of Lages, in Brazil's Santa Catarina state, holds a popular pinhão fair, in which hot wine and boiled araucaria seeds are consumed. In Brazil, 3,400 tons of seeds are collected annually which, combined with extensive logging, seriously threatens the regeneration of the species. The seeds are very important for the native animals. Several mammals and birds eat pinhão, and it has an important ecological role in Araucaria moist forests (a sub-type of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest). The species is widely used in folk medicine.

natural range of <em>Araucaria angustifolia </em>
natural range of Araucaria angustifolia

Distribution. Originally covering an area of 90,000 square miles (233,000 square kilometers), this species is native to southern Brazil — sometimes found in high-altitude areas of southern Minas Gerais, southern Rio de Janeiro and in the east and south of São Paulo, but more typically in the states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. It is also found in the northeast of Argentina — Misiones and Corrientes and locally in Paraguay — Alto Paraná, growing in low mountains at elevations of 1,600 to 5,900 feet (500 – 1,800 m) above sea level. This is the only Araucaria not native to the south Pacific Ocean region.

The Paraná pine prefers well drained, slightly acidic soil but will tolerate almost any soil type provided drainage is good. It requires a subtropical climate with abundant rainfall, tolerating occasional frosts down to about 23 to -4°F (-5 to -20°C). It is a popular garden tree in subtropical areas, planted for its unusual effect of the thick, "reptilian: branches with a very symmetrical appearance.

Hardy to USDA Zone 9 — cold hardiness limit between 20° and 30°F (-6.6° and -1.1°C).

Araucaria-angustifolia — small specimen in the Brazilian jungle near Araukarie bei Campos do Jordaõ.
Photo by Adrian Michael
Araucaria angustifolia — mature trees growing in habitat in Campos do Jordão, Brazil.
Photo by Adrian Michael via Wikipedia
Araucaria-angustifolia — Parana pine near Jaguariaíva, Brazil
Photo by John A Matel via Wikipedia
Araucaria-angustifolia — Paraná pine, Brazilian pine; in Campos do Jordão, state of São Paulo, southeastern Brazil.
Photo by Adrian Michael via Wikipedia
Araucaria angustifolia — a closeup of terminal shoot with fresh spring growth.
Photo by Tom Cox
Araucaria angustifolia — a closeup of bark detail, at Jardin Botanico Carlos Thais, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Photo by Tom Cox
Araucaria angustifolia in Campos do Jordão, Brazil.
Photo by FML via Wikipedia
Araucaria-angustifolia — mature "Candelabra Tree" (Paraná pine)


Melissa Sawvell

I have seen different cold hardiness numbers for this tree. I just ordered two saplings to try them out. I will keep them in pots until they are a bit older, but has anyone in the northeast tried to grow these in the ground. I am in northern NJ.

Tim Millan

This very article contradicts itself on hardiness- citing a Zone 9 limit and also stating tolerance down to -4f. I would think you might be successful only if you are on the immediate coast of NJ. Just remember that this tree gets far too large to protect if the need arises in the future

Joseph Day

Where exactly did you find and order saplings? I'm in the Puget sound of Washington state and would like to try to grow a few🤔

Tim Millan

There are two mailorder nurseries here in the Seattle area where I have seen this plant for sale - Wanderlust Nursery in West Seattle, and Keeping It Green Nursery in Warm Beach ( north of Seattle near Stanwood). I purchased a small plant from KIG nursery 5/6 years ago, it is about 8ft tall now and I am thinking about putting it in the ground this Spring. There is substantial discrepancy in reported hardiness. Most sources say Z9 - which would be only the most favorable areas around the Sound. However, a couple of references state it will tolerate down to -4f, which would be almost anywhere west of the Cascades, including my Mt. Vernon location. KIG nursery lists the tree as Z7, but I am still hesitant as the tree is beautiful right now, and I would hate to lose it ( We saw +4f this winter and last winter)