No doubt that this is one of the most famous Chilean plants. It is huge, tall, sturdy, strange-looking, it bark very reminiscent of the dinosaur skin, and this comparision is not too far fetched, because it is one of the oldest families of trees on earth. In addition, it also one of the long-living species, and there are many treees older than 1000 years. The only inconvenience is that it grows very slowly. On the positive side, it is ideally suited for beginners, because no matter how badly you botch it up, the seeds will germinate anyway, and because the seeds are so big, it a couple of weeks you obtain an established plant (10 - 15 cm).
The seeds are easy to germinate provided that they are fresh. the sure way to germinate them is to soak the seeds for about two days in water, then carry out a short cold stratification (put the seeds into a refrigerator for about 10 - 15 days in humid sand), and then plant them at 20? C. The germination rate is about 80%, and because the seeds are quite big, the initial growth (10 -12 cm.) is very quick - it takes less than 90 days from the time you soak the sees till you obtain the young plants of this size. For some batches of seeds the cold stratification may not be necessary if the seeds were exposed to rain before harvesting (happens quite often in their natural habitat) and underwent the natural cold stratification. In that case the seeds would germinate well, but they can not be stored for long period of times before sowing, because they start to spoil. We have successfully germinated seeds which were stored for up to 1 year and a half, but we recommend that as a rule, only fresh seeds are used and are not stored for more than 3 months after harvest (in Chile, the harvesting time is around March - April).