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.


No comments:

Post a Comment