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Dunollie's Monkey Puzzle Tree

For the last 143 years, Dunollie was the proud home of a Monkey Puzzle Tree.

Monkey Puzzle Trees are originally from South America and were first brought to the UK in the late 18th century and became extremely popular during Victorian and Edwardian times. We have reason to believe ours was planted in 1880, whilst Charles Allan MacDougall, 27th Chief of his clan, resided in Dunollie House.

The monkey puzzle tree is in the background, at the centre of the photo taken in April 2023.

For the last couple of years, our team and many of our visitors noted that our monkey puzzle tree simply didn't look it's best. All of it's lower branches seemed to have died and fallen off with only those at the very top remaining. Recently, our fears were officially confirmed as large amounts of honey fungus was found in the tree.

It was no longer safe to have on a visitor's site as it might have come crashing down in the next storm. This could have been a disastrous in a number of ways. Firstly because it may have injured some of our staff and visitors. Secondly as it risked damaging part of the house which is a Scheduled Monument protected by Historic Environment Scotland as well as our collections store and our office space. Finally, if the tree had fallen in any other direction, it would have caused great damage to the rest of our grounds.

RM Tree Services removing the branches one by one in May 2023.

It was with a heavy heart but full understanding that we arranged to have it taken down. We called upon the assistance of RM Tree Services with whom we have worked with in the past. They did an excellent job and clearly aren't afraid of heights!

New Routes Health & Wellbeing participants pilling up monkey puzzle seeds and branches in May 2023.

Last week, our New Routes Health and Well-being Group finished clearing up the smaller branches and seeds left from the Monkey Puzzle Tree.

Whilst we were very sad to see it go, we know this makes our site a safer place and was the only way to protect ourselves, our visitors and our collection. It's also an exciting new beginning for our site with space for other amazing plants to grow and thrive.

Images of Dunollie's Woodland Grounds taken throughout the year.

Some of you will know that this isn't our only tree to have come down in the last few years.

For any enquiries about our wood, please contact us via email on


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