Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Dalene Mathee Big Tree (Knysna)

In 2008 the magnificent 800 year old Outeniqua yellowwood (podocarpus falcatus) formerly known as the ‘Big Tree’ in the Wilderness National Park near Knysna, was renamed  the ‘Dalene Mathee Big Tree’ in memory of one of South Africa’s most famous authors.

All of Dalene’s books namely ‘Circles in the Forest’, ‘Fiela’s Child’, ‘The Mulberry Forest’ and ‘Dream Forest’ are set in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries where the woodcutters of the Knysna forest at that time, are the central characters.

After Dalene’s death in 2005 it was her family’s wish to erect a memorial to their mother at ‘Krisjan se nek’ in the forest. This was one of Dalene’s favourite spots, and when she needed inspiration while writing her books, she would often spend long hours there.

Dalene’s daughter, Hillary Mathee said that her mother’s last wish was to have her ashes scattered in the Knysna forest that she loved so much.

When the family approached Sanparks with regard to the memorial, they embraced the idea, as conserving the country’s heritage is their main function.

Subsequently, Dalene’s memorial now stands alongside the magnificent Podocarpus falcatus and a boardwalk has been built to allow visitors easy access to the memorial and the tree. The old woodcutters hiking trail that starts at ‘Krisjan se nek’ has been renamed ‘Circles in the Forest Trail’ after her most famous book.

Jill Gordon the park manager, says that Sanparks regard it a great honour to house Dalene’s memorial and to be part of the conservation of one of our country’s great legends

TreeCo Big Tree Gallery - October 2011


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Spectacular Monthly Tree
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.
This month our Virgilia oroboides are looking absolutely stunning as they are fully in flower. We invite you to visit our nursery to see them for yourselves…they are quite irresistible! As these showy and rewarding trees are so popular, we have given you more in depth information on this lovely species in our tree review for October, but hurry and get in your orders now, to avoid disappointment.
Botanical Name
Virgilia oroboides 
Common Name                Keurboom
Bag Size 50kg
Quantity Available 100
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 October 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.
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Virgilia oroboides (Keurboom)

This most delightful, fast growing evergreen tree with a somewhat rounded crown and low branching habit is perfect as a pioneer species for woodland development where slower growing species will benefit from the shade and wind protection that the Keurboom provides. This is also a useful mulch producing tree adding extensively to poor or marginal soils in only a few seasons. The fragrant, pretty pink pea flowers rich in nectar, make them irresistible to sunbirds, bees and a host of other insects.
Botanical Name
Virgilia oroboides
Common Name
RSA National Tree No’
The popular and extremely decorative Virgilia oroboides will look spectacular wherever it is planted. Although it is relatively short lived, from 12 – 20 years, it grows very rapidly and can easily be replaced when necessary. This absolutely lovely tree is equally suitable for both small and large landscapes and looks absolutely beautiful as a street tree or as a decorative feature in office parks and other built up areas where a fast growing shade tree is required. As it is low branching, the Keurboom is ideal for establishing privacy as well as being a useful wind break.
6 m
4 m
Growth Habit
The Keurboom is commonly found growing below 1200m along forest margins, often beside rivers or streams, as well as in thickets and on hillsides.
The bark is silver-grey and smooth on young trees becoming dull grey and rough on older trees.
The leaves of Virgilia oroboides are greyish-green and have a dense covering of velvety hairs. They are pinnately compound with from 6 to 12 pairs of leaflets and a single terminal leaflet.   
The pale pink, sweetly scented, pea shaped flowers appear in spring and are carried in dense terminal spikes that are up to 100mm long.
The fruit consists of 50mm-80mm long flat brown pods that turn black as they mature. These split open and release the seeds. There are between 2 and 6 seeds per pod.
The seeds of the Keurboom resemble small dark brown beans.
Growing regions
Virgilia oroboides is generally found along the narrow South-Eastern coastal strip between the Cape peninsula and George.
Growing conditions
The lovely Keurboom will grow equally well in full sun or semi-shade and will adapt to most well drained soils. Water regularly when young but once established these trees are able to survive fairly long droughts.
Best season
Virgilia oroboides will tolerate some frost provided that it is not subjected to frost for extended periods.
These trees are easily propagated from seed that has been soaked and planted in a general seedling mixture and kept moist
Growth rate
The Keurboom grows extremely fast and given optimum growing conditions, newly planted young trees can grow up to 2 metres in a single year.
The wood of the lovely Keurboom has long been popular for decorative wood turned items as well as for yokes, wagon bed planks, spars and for durable furniture. Traditionally, the clear gum that is exuded by the bark was used as starch.
               V. oroboides Seed Pod and Leaf                          V. oroboides Seed                                           V. oroboides Flowers