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Monday, August 17, 2020

The Kindergarten Giant

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

Moreton Bay Fig (Moracaea: Ficus macrophylla)
Common name Australian Banyan

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

Located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain in the Western Cape, driving along Rhodes Drive take the UCT off-ramp and proceed to the upper campus. This delightful specimen has established a foothold in the UCT Educare Center, vigilantly minding the children at play.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

Originating from the eastern shores of Australia here stands a true Champion, Moreton Bay Fig or Australian banyan (Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla). Its common name is derived from Moreton Bay in Queensland, Australia, a strangler fig by nature, with seed germination usually taking place in the canopy of a host tree and the seedling lives as an epiphyte until its roots establish contact with the ground. Enlarging, then strangling its host, eventually becoming a freestanding tree.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

We owe a debt of gratitude to the UCT's online communications head and long-time tree lover, Rethea Deetlefs, who has immortalized this majestic tree. Alerting the Dendrological Society of South Africa about this remarkable giant, it was shortlisted by the Champion Tree evaluation panel and listed as the Kindergarten Giant.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

 Unique in its construction and appearance in comparison to its closest rivals just down the road so to speak. The behemoth Arden Garden Moreton Bay fig with its muscular limbs and imposing buttress roots, or the Fernwood Trees with towering column-like trunks, tall and slender like models on the runway, in perfect step.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

Elegant and refined the Kindergarten Giant branches out like a fountain, providing pleasant, shade for the centre's playpark.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

We visited during the lockdown period, deserted and quiet, allowing us time to appreciate such a magnificent colossus. It was late summer and hot, the sun was bright and high; nevertheless, the expanse of the canopy provided sufficient shade to savour our time spent.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

Another unique quality of the Kindergarten Giant is the myriad of rooting arrangements that adorn this creature like a thick warm cloak. Surrounding the central trunk, disguising its breadth and providing an unusual character for this tree. We have no doubt that it contributes sufficient entertainment for the children as it did for our gathering on the day.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)


Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)

Content with the understanding that this alien champion tree is protected from the woodcutter's axe, we departed adding to the list of numerous tales this tree must have recorded.

Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan
(The Kindergarten Giant: Moreton Bay Fig)


Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan



Moreton Bay Fig, Champion Tree, South Africa, UCT Upper Campus, Kindergarten Giant, Cape Town, Alex Aitkenhead, Majestic Trees, Southern Africa, ficus macrophylla, Moraceae, Australian banyan

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