Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Fernwood Champion Trees

South African Champion Tree: Moreton Bay Fig 

(Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla)
Alternate common name: Australian Banyan | Australiese baniaan (Afrikaans)

Date Visited:   August 2020
Location: Fernwood Avenue, Newlands Cape Town.

Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla),  South African Champion Tree, Moreton Bay Fig, Alternate common name Australian Banyan, Australiese baniaan Afrikaans

( Moreton Bay Fig - The Fernwood Trees )

Driving down the leafy lane in Fernwood avenue, Newlands Western Cape, it appeared a little daunting to locate the Champion Monterey bay fig that we were searching for. Most trees in this neighbourhood were on an impressive scale.  I wondered to myself how on earth would it be possible to identify one champion tree amongst so many potential suitors. How wrong I had been, as we approached the end of the road, there it appeared, majestic and imposing, confined to a private residence. 

Fernwood Lane
( Fernwood road lined with trees )

Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla),  South African Champion Tree, Moreton Bay Fig, Alternate common name Australian Banyan, Australiese baniaan Afrikaans
( Moreton Bay Fig - The Fernwood Trees )

Our first observation about this champion was that it had a sibling, of similar age, but a mere shadow of this behemoth. Requiring permission to admire the complete structure, the large fig was hidden from sight by an annoying,  boundary wall obstructing our view of this gem. Waiting anxiously as we rang the doorbell, the landlord needing to provide final access to the estate to witness this spectacle.

Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla),  South African Champion Tree, Moreton Bay Fig, Alternate common name Australian Banyan, Australiese baniaan Afrikaans
( Moreton Bay Fig - The Fernwood Trees )

It was the height of the COVID 19 epidemic, and visitors were not welcome in these trying times. Thankfully we were welcomed like old friends, Susan Smith as she introduced herself is the proud owner.  After exchanging pleasantries, the tree appeared in full view, it swept me off my feet. A large column structure with a crown that exploded like a volcano, its leafy limbs outstretched like billowing smoke. A noble tree worthy of its status as a Champion tree, we were relishing the opportunity to admire the elaborate canopy.
Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla),  South African Champion Tree, Moreton Bay Fig, Alternate common name Australian Banyan, Australiese baniaan Afrikaans
( Moreton Bay Fig - The Fernwood Trees )

How different this colossus was compared to the Kindergarten Giant, no masses of hanging aerial rooting systems and one main muscular trunk. Supported by a well-developed buttress root system and Similar in stature and age to the Arden Gardens wedding tree (also a Moreton Bay Fig), these fig trees are rated as the finest specimens of its species in the world.

Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla),  South African Champion Tree, Moreton Bay Fig, Alternate common name Australian Banyan, Australiese baniaan Afrikaans
( Moreton Bay Fig - The Fernwood Trees )

Wanting to return to record the exhibition, we made the necessary arrangements to return when the aloes that surrounded the base were in full bloom. Excited by the prospect, we left feeling rather content that we had paved the foundation for our return.

Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla),  South African Champion Tree, Moreton Bay Fig, Alternate common name Australian Banyan, Australiese baniaan Afrikaans
( Moreton Bay Fig - The Fernwood Trees )

We returned in the spring, the garden was in full bloom, and our champion glowed in the warm morning sunshine. Originating from the eastern parts of Australia, this impressive individual is estimated to be 160 years old, a mere youngster in tree terms. Oh, how this tree will impress in the next hundred years.

Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla),  South African Champion Tree, Moreton Bay Fig, Alternate common name Australian Banyan, Australiese baniaan Afrikaans
( Moreton Bay Fig - The Fernwood Trees )
Upon our return, Susan was the most patient and welcoming host.  Our young son discovered her fish and tadpole pond, and she gave him caring attention to help us get to document and admire this beautiful champion in her equally beautiful garden.

Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla),  South African Champion Tree, Moreton Bay Fig, Alternate common name Australian Banyan, Australiese baniaan Afrikaans
( Moreton Bay Fig - The Fernwood Trees )

Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla),  South African Champion Tree, Moreton Bay Fig, Alternate common name Australian Banyan, Australiese baniaan Afrikaans
( Moreton Bay Fig - The Fernwood Trees )

This tree's size Index is listed as #322 and is based on the formula below with an impressive 27m high, the crown is a whopping 45,5m.



Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla),  South African Champion Tree, Moreton Bay Fig, Alternate common name Australian Banyan, Australiese baniaan Afrikaans
( Moreton Bay Fig - The Fernwood Trees )

Although this tree can be viewed from the street if you would like to explore the complete structure, you will need to make prior arrangements.

Moraceae: Ficus macrophylla),  South African Champion Tree, Moreton Bay Fig, Alternate common name Australian Banyan, Australiese baniaan Afrikaans
( Moreton Bay Fig - The Fernwood Trees )

Ecstatic that we had enjoyed the company of this majestic beast, we thanked our wonderful host and departed.

Our timing was perfect.  Thanks to Susan for hosting us in her beautiful garden during its full bloom in the peak of spring 2020.  We appreciate the effort that she had gone to, ensuring that her majestic champion was perfectly dressed for the occasion.


Join us on our travels exploring 
Majestic Trees of Southern Africa

1 comment: