How South Africa’s 1000-year old tree looked 100 years ago

A picture of South Africa’s 1000-year old fig tree – the Wonderboom – shows how the marvel of nature looked over 100 years ago.

The Wonderboom is a unique 1000-year old fig tree found north of the Magaliesburg Mountains in Pretoria.

Today, the tree is made up of a small grove of trees, including the original trunk – which is over 5.5 metres wide – and about 16 ‘daughter’ trees which sprang forth from the original mother tree.

The tree’s growth pattern is unique. As the tree grew, its branches spread and drooped to the ground, and eventually took root, forming new, smaller trees around the core.

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

The tree was also culturally significant to the indigenous tribes in the past, forming part of their legends and mythos.

Before being hit by a fire and a parasite infestation, the tree was substantially larger than it is today.

This is how the tree looked in the past, versus how it looks today.

Wonderboom then 2

Wonderboom then Wonderboom now

Wonderboom nature reserve

(Image sources: National Archives, Wikipedia Commons)

While the “then” photo above cannot be accurately dated, it is estimated to be from around 1900.

The images below show the scale of the tree from above.

Wonderboom scale Wonderboom diameter

More on then and now

This is what Pretoria looked like in the 1900s

This is what Joburg looked like in 1900

Cape Town like you’ve never seen it before: 1940 – 1980

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How South Africa’s 1000-year old tree looked 100 years ago