Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to proclaim more Champion Trees
7 Sep 2010
In Gauteng another huge rose gum tree will be unveiled as a Champion Tree on 10 September. The tree’s massive crown, measuring more than 38 metres from side to side, shades part of the Gavin Relly Green on the Witwatersrand University campus grounds, supported by a trunk of 7,5 meters in circumference.
The Wonderboom wild fig tree at Pretoria holds the title for the largest crown (61 metres in diameter). This thousand-year-old monarch consists of a mother tree with rings of daughter trees that sprouted over centuries from branches touching the ground. At Sagole in Limpopo, the largest indigenous tree in the country – a baobab with a trunk circumference of more than 33 metres – can be found.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is set to add more trees to the declared list of Champion Trees. This will bring the number of Champion Trees to more than 60. Trees already declared include a grove of very tall rose gum trees (Eucalyptus saligna) that was planted in 1906 by forestry pioneer A.K. Eastwood at the Woodbush Forest Estate near Tzaneen. The two tallest of these trees have been measured by professional tree climbers in 2008, and have been dubbed the Twin Giants of Magoebaskloof. At a height of 79 metres they will tower above a 26 storey block of flats and are officially the tallest trees in Africa and the tallest of the planted trees anywhere in the world.
Another baobab tree will soon be added to the list of Champions. This giant tree, the King of Ga-Ratjeke, towers over the Shangane village in Limpopo province after which it was named. It replaces the Glencoe baobab near Hoedspruit (the second largest baobab in the country) after it partially collapsed and was consequently delisted. In Bloemfontein, a group of trees at the old government buildings, including century-old cedars planted by royalty such as Lord Alfred Milner, was delisted after most of the trees died off. These trees apparently perished as a result of a lack of water.
Other famous trees already declared as Champion Trees include the Post Office milkwood tree at Mossel Bay where Portuguese seafarers left messages to passing sailing ships centuries ago and a three-centuries-old lane of camphor trees planted at Vergelegen Estate by Governor W.A. van der Stel.
Most of the trees to be added to the Champion Tree list are exotic species such as oak and gum trees. Some oak trees have been planted more than a century ago and the largest of these has a trunk circumference of almost 11 metres. The gum trees in South Africa reach exceptional sizes, exceeding the sizes of other gum trees planted in all other countries except in their native Australia.
Outeniqua yellowwoods of the Knysna forests draw many visitors, such as the Tsitsikamma Big Tree, which receives more than 80 000 visitors a year. In the Goudveld Forest one of the new Champions have been renamed the Dalene Matthee Big Tree, in honour of the author who wrote a best seller series of historic novels about these forests and the woodcutters of the nineteenth century.
For further information contact:
Ms Noncedo Vutula
Tel: 012 319 7348
Fax: 012 319 7832
Cell: 082 523 4904
Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
7 Sep 2010
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