About Champion Trees

It is difficult to believe, when you first stroll down the predominantly oak-lined streets of Stellenbosch, that not every tree is a champion tree. There are so many of them and they tower above you, obviously decades old.

Stellenbosch is renowned for its oaks, known as the ‘city of oaks’ for the massive, towering trees planted by the first free burghers who settled in the town in 1679. Encouraged by the High Commissioner, van Rheede tot Drakenstein, to plant oaks Stellenbosch has reaped the benefits today.

Did you know? Once you've booked your hotel or accommodation in Stellenbosch, explore the destination pages for info on attractions, activities and things to do when you visit the Cape Winelands.

Many of these beautiful English trees were lost in the three fires that razed much of Stellenbosch in the early years. Only a handful of third generation trees actually still exist. Most of them lie in the historical part of town, four of them Champion trees.

Champion trees are select individual trees (indigenous or non-indigenous), as well as groups of trees, that have protected status under Section 12 of the National Forests Act of 1998. The list protects old trees. It appears that their height, stem diameter and crown diameter play a role in their selection and they include such trees as the Sagole baobab in Limpopo, the 1 000 year-old Wonderboom fig in Pretoria, and the Moreton Bay fig in Arderne Garden, Cape Town.

The country has 75 such trees (the list is re-worked every year, based on nominations assessed by an expert panel), four of which are in the historical quarter of Stellenbosch. These include:

1) the Norfolk Island pine in the gardens of the Theological Seminary, planted by the wife of the last landdrost of Stellenbosch, on the bend of Dorp Street as it becomes Pastorie Road

2) the River red gum tree on Victoria Road behind Wilgenhof (Willow Court)

3) the Ryneveld Oak, planted in 1812 and one of only five remaining oak trees from the previous generation of planted oak trees (on Ryneveld Street near Morkel House)

4) the lemon scented gum trees on the grounds of the Paul Roos Gymnasium on the other side of Eerste River on Suidwal Road, this group of big trees is particularly scenic

Pick up your copy of Historical Stellenbosch on Foot from Stellenbosch Tourism at 36 market Street. The map includes the Champion Trees and a list of antique clocks.

Need to Know

WhereVarious locations in Stellenbosch. Please see addresses in the notes below. (GPS Coordinates have been plotted corner Dorp and Pastorie).

WhenBest during daylight hours.

OvernightStay in Stellenbosch Accommodation, Western Cape

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