Champion Tree proclaimed in Johannesburg


A tree that Nelson Mandela planted with his wife, Graça Machel, in 2008, in Soweto has been declared a Champion Tree by Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo. As a provincial heritage site, the tree is protected and may not be cut nor damaged.

Madiba tree
The white stinkwood tree Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel planted in 2008 is named a Champion Tree on 8 November 2016. (Image: Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo, Twitter)

Brand South Africa reporter

In 2008, Nelson Mandela planted a tree in Thokoza Park, in Soweto. Today, the Celtis Africana, or white stinkwood, stands at almost 8 metres tall, and has been declared a Champion Tree.

“[We are] proud to announce the declaration of the Mandela Champion Tree as a provincial heritage site,” said Johannesburg City Parks and
Zoo on 8 November 2016.

The Gauteng Provincial Heritage Resources Authority (PHRA-G) has graded the site as a Site II Heritage Site. That meant “the tree is protected; it may not be cut, distributed or damaged and products from the tree may not be possessed, sold or transported without a licence”, said the department.

The aim of such a declaration is to heighten socio-economic development in Soweto, particularly Thokoza Park, as a tourist attraction.

Celtis africana (white stinkwood) stands at about 8 meters now:

The white stinkwood

Did you know?

  • When planted in a garden, it can reach a height of 12 metres.
  • The trunk is usually smooth, covered in bark that ranges from pale grey to white.
  • It flowers during spring, August to September. The flowers are small, greenish, star-like and inconspicuous.
  • The tree is resilient because it is drought resistant and is able to withstand frost.
  • It can be found in a wide range of habitats from South Africa’s coast to Ethiopia.
  • The tree is able to grow in forests, rocky areas, the bushveld, on river banks, slopes of mountains, and even open grassland.

Source: Johannesburg City Parks

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