The Saffron Pear Tree

Landmarks / National Monuments in or near Cape Town Central, City Bowl in Cape Town, South Africa.

Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Saffron Pear Tree

Where? Company's Garden, Cape Town Central, City Bowl, Cape Town

Overnight? Stay in Cape Town Central, in Western Cape

The saffron pear tree, the country's oldest tree ~ The oldest tree in the Company's Garden is also probably the oldest cultivated tree in the country.

The over 360 year old sweet saffraan pear is an old Dutch pear that arrived way back in Van Riebeeck's time. Its Latin name is Pyrus communis, which makes it one of the original varieties of pear. It must be a good variety as the tree continues to bear fruit, albeit little renditions of the juicy crop, eaten predominantly by the birds of the garden.

The old saying used by fruit growers that you 'plant pears for your heirs' obviously bears fruit. The old pear tree was originally one of a circle of pear trees in the centre of the garden.

It's called a saffron pear tree because its leaves were used dye wool a saffron yellow. Typically the fruit was used in preserves and the tree was fairly common, often used to line the roads leading up to Cape Dutch farm houses.

This particular saffraan has an interesting story attached to it. It was recently cloned and a new tree developed from the old. Local consensus decided the old tree is swiftly reaching the close of its life – to keep it upright the tree is supported by braces and poles.

To save its genetic material cuttings were taken from the tree by the fruit distributor Tru Cape, to make grafts, which preserves the genetic purity of the mother plant. Once the clones were sapling trees one was planted alongside the original mother tree, whilst another was planted in the vegetable garden's orchard section.

The saffron pear tree is one of the country's Champion Trees, giving it special protected status so that it may not be damaged or cut.

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