Thursday, April 7, 2011

Iconic South African Trees - Pretoria's Wonderboom

"Incomparably beautiful and exalted above all others he stands there like a monarch of the forest. How many generations of humans and creatures have not been refreshed by his shade?” This is a translation of the rapturous description by Thomas Burgers, newly elected president of the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek in 1871 when first setting eyes on this most magnificent of trees.

This superb specimen of Ficus salicifolia (wild fig) is believed to be over 1000 years old. Located on the northern slopes of the Magaliesberg in the Wonderboom Nature Reserve outside Pretoria, the tree was given its name by Voortrekker, Hendrik Potgieter in the early 1800’s.

At one time the spread of the Wonderboom was great enough to shelter 1000 people but in 1870 a fire greatly reduced the size of the tree and in later years, pest infestation caused further reduction in size.

In spite of this, the original trunk of the Wonderboom is over 5m in diameter, and wherever the branches have touched the ground, new trunks have formed of which there are currently 13, giving this remarkable tree a spread of over 50m. The tallest part of the Wonderboom is 23m high.

The Wonderboom is a sacred place for local Tswana tribes who believe that the tree grew this big because the body of one of their tribal chiefs is buried under the tree.

A walkway has been constructed around the tree trunks to avoid damage to the Wonderboom by the numerous visitors who come from around the world to view this natural wonder.


Spectacular Monthly Tree - Quercus nigra

Although we have many tree species at our nursery that are looking spectacular at any given time, we feature just one tree in particular every month that we know will offer you the best value for money and that will add that special touch to your landscape project.
The deciduous, fast growing Quercus nigra, is an attractive medium sized tree with an upright growth habit and a broad, rounded, symmetrical crown. The mid green spatula shaped leaves are small and are often quite variable in shape. The bark on young trees is smooth and grey in colour, turning darker and developing ridges on older trees. The flowers take the form of hanging catkins and appear shortly before the new leaves in spring. The acorns are small and very dark, the top of which is covered by a small flattened cap. The acorns take 2 years to reach maturity. This lovely tree thrives in full sun and prefers soil to which plenty of compost has been added. Moderate amounts of water throughout the year will ensure that the handsome Water oak grows optimally, rewarding one with a magnificent specimen tree in a few short years
Botanical NameQuercus nigra
Common Name    Water oak                
Bag Size 200kg
Quantity Available 50
Average Tree Height
& Trunk Thickness
Should you require any further information, such as pricing details or should you wish to place an order, please contact Rudi on 082 829 5543 or Leske on 072 385 0270. Alternatively you are welcome to email us with your enquiry at
Availability List for April 2011

TreeCo provides our readers with a downloadable, updated Availability List every month. 

Please note that should you not find the tree that you are looking for on this list, TreeCo will readily source what you require, on your behalf. Rudi and Leske Neethling personally ensure that all trees supplied by TreeCo, conform to our high quality standards.
Please CLICK HERE to download our latest Availability List.
This document is available as a PDF document and will require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader loaded on your computer, please click on the link below which will allow you to download this free program quickly and easily.

Celtis sinensis (Chinese hackberry)

The lovely, tall Celtis sinensis is a real asset as it will grow in any soil type and thrives in conditions ranging from full sun to full shade. This beautiful tree has a wide spreading crown providing cool dappled shade in summer while the interesting tracery of fine grey branches creates a stunning silhouette in winter when the tree is bare. The abundant crop of edible dark orange berries adds extra interest in autumn when the leaves turn golden yellow before falling to the ground. The Chinese hackberry is an important pollen source for honey bees. The magnificent specimen of Celtis sinensis at Daegu-Myeon is one of the national monuments of South Korea.
Botanical Name
Celtis sinensis
Common Name
Chinese hackberry
RSA National Tree No’
Not indigenous
Celtis sinensis is a wonderful addition to the larger garden. With it’s beautiful form and dappled shade it works well as a specimen tree on a large lawn or as a lovely avenue along a driveway. Because the Chinese hackberry tolerates a wide range of growing conditions it is also popular as a street tree or in parks and public areas. The profusion of dark orange berries are relished by birds and the tree is host to several butterfly species. These trees form an outstanding wind break and should be allowed to branch low down if they are planted for this purpose, but if they are planted as an avenue or as a specimen tree, they can be pruned and trained into any suitable shape when young. Plant these trees between 2 ½ m and 3m from buildings or paved areas as the strong surface roots could otherwise cause some damage.                                                    
10m – 12m
Growth Habit
Celtis sinensis is found in a wide variety of habitats from riverine forest, to drier inland areas as well as open woodland.
The smooth to finely rough bark of the Chinese hackberry is pale grey with shallow ridges and furrows that widen towards the base of the tree.
The glossy dark green leaves with pale undersides are 40mm-80mm long. The leaves are elliptic, simple and serrated with pronounced venation. The leaves turn golden yellow in autumn. 
The small, insignificant green flowers appear in spring and are pollinated by bees.
Appearing from autumn to early winter, the plentiful round, fleshy, berry-like fruit is dark orange, ripening to red-brown.
The hard, round seeds are a pale creamy colour and are distributed by birds, bats and running water.
Growing regions
The handsome Celtis sinensis  is native to Japan, Korea and Eastern China
Growing conditions
This tree is highly adaptable and does well in a variety of soil types from moist, fertile conditions to poor dry soils and everything in between. They do equally well whether planted in shade, semi shade or full sun.
Best season
All year
These trees are hardy, withstanding high winds as well as drought conditions.
Seeds germinate readily but a quicker method is to take semi hardwood cuttings, dip them in hormone powder and plant in moist sand.
Growth rate
Chinese hackberry is a fast grower.
Celtis sinensis leaves can be cooked or used to make a tea substitute. The root bark has traditionally been used for a variety of medicinal applications. Some of these include the treatment of dyspepsia, shortness of breath, lack of appetite as well as swollen feet. The wood of this interesting tree has the highest bending tolerance of all species of wood.
            C. sinensis Foliage & Fruit           C. sinensis Seed                  C. sinensis Bark