The Wonderboom

The Wonderboom (translated “Tree of Wonder” or “Miracle tree”) is a unique 1000 year old fig tree found North of the Magaliesburg Mountains in Pretoria. The tree, now a national monument, is unusually large, standing some 25 metres high and having a 5,5 metre diameter main trunk. It’s growth pattern is also unusual: as its branches grew longer, they drooped towards the ground and eventually took root and formed a circle of new trunks or daughter trees around the original tree. There are now a total of 13 trunks and the colossal tree covers an area with a diameter of 55 metres!

The local people of the area revered the tree as sacred – legend has it that a chief of an indigenous tribe lies buried beneath its roots, fabled to be the reason for the tree’s immense size.

The Wonderboom, however, used to be a lot larger, able to provide shade for over 1000 people. Sadly, its size has dramatically decreased after a fire in 1870 (started by hunting party) and parasite infestation which recently had the Wonderboom under a 20 year quarantine.

The Voortrekkers, led by Hendrik Potgieter, discovered the tree in 1836 and named it the Wonderboom. Many Voortrekkers after him used it as a rest stop on their journeys.

The area around the Wonderboom has been set aside as the Wonderboom Nature Reserve which has picnic and braai spots and boasts a variety of animals, including many dassies (rock hyrax) and a breeding pair of Black Eagles.

The Nature Reserve is also home to archeological excavation sites dating from the Iron and Stone Ages. The Stone Age excavation is the largest single discovery of stone artifacts in Africa.

Wonderboom Nature Reserve also offers a number of hiking trails to scenic spots in the reserve, including the Wonderboom Fort, one of four forts built around Pretoria for protection against the British. The fort now lies in ruins, but still provides breathtaking views over the city of Pretoria.

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