The massive Australian Banyan (Ficus macrophylla), otherwise known as the Moretan Bay Fig tree, located at the main entrance of the National Zoo, has been added to this list following its nomination in October last year by Leonard van Staden. Van Staden nominated the tree after admiring it during a visit to the zoo with his family.
The boy in the picture is dwarfed by the giant tree.
The leaves and fruit of the tree.
The tree, located just inside the zoo past the main entrance, has the second largest canopy of any single-stemmed tree in South Africa - the largest is another Ficus macrophylla in Arderne Gardens in Cape Town. It is larger by merely a metre! The tree in the zoo has a recorded height of 27 m and a stem circumference of 11.9 m. At its widest, its crown has been measured at a whopping 43.1 m.
It is believed that the tree was planted more than 100 years ago and was already there when the zoo opened to the public in 1899. Nobody has been able to confirm who planted it. According to records, the land originally belonged to Stephanus Schoeman (1810-1890), then Acting President of the South African Republic. At the time the land was called "Klein Schoemans Dal".
In 1880, the land reverted to Johannes Francois Celliers and was renamed "Rus in Urbe" (this is the farm that the zoo was established on). The land was sold to the Republican Government in 1895 for the purpose of establishing the National Zoo.
The tree is a formidable landmark - why not take some time to admire its magnificence the next time you visit the zoo?