The Wonderboom Nature Reserve and is Home to a 1000 Year Old Fig Tree, or Ficus Salicifolia, known as the 'Wonderboom' [wonder tree]. Legend states that the tree grew to its size because the chief of an Indeigneous tribe is buried underneath its roots. The tree was also once big enough to provide shade for about 1000 people, or 22 ox wagons with 20 oxens in front of each. The tree has subsequently been damaged by fire in 1870 and a parasitic disease, but it still visible via an interpretative tour via a protective boardwalk. The reserve has a small waterfall, and guards the remains of Fort Wonderboompoort, a fort built at the time of the Jameson Raid. The reserve also has a variety of wildlife and plant species, and is the location of an important Iron Age site. This reserve was declared a National Monument under old NMC legislation on 23 September 1988.
The tree, now a National Monument, is unusually large, standing some 25 metres high and having a 5,5 metre diameter main trunk. It’s growth pattern is also unusual: as its branches grew longer, they drooped towards the ground and eventually took root and formed a circle of new trunks or daughter trees around the original tree. There are now a total of 13 trunks and the colossal tree covers an area with a diameter of 55 metres!
Under the Wonderboom Giant Wild Fig Tree in Pretoria The Local People of the Area revered the tree as sacred – legend has it that a Chief of an Indigenous tribe lies Buried beneath its roots, fabled to be the reason for the tree’s immense size. The Wonderboom, however, used to be a lot larger, able to provide shade for over 1000 people. Sadly, its size has dramatically decreased after a fire in 1870 (started by hunting party) and parasite infestation which recently had the Wonderboom under a 20 Year quarantine.
The Voortrekkers, led by Hendrik Potgieter, discovered the tree in 1836 and named it the Wonderboom. Many Voortrekkers after him used it as a rest stop on their journeys.
The Area Around the Wonderboom, has been set aside as the Wonderboom Nature Reserve which has Picnic and Braai Spots and boasts a variety of Animals, including many Dassies (Rock Hyrax) and a breeding pair of Black Eagles.
The Nature Reserve is also Home to Archeological excavation sites dating from the Iron and Stone Ages. The Stone Age excavation is the Largest single discovery of stone Artifacts in Africa.
Wonderboom Nature Reserve also offers a number of Hiking Trails to scenic spots in the Reserve, including the Wonderboom Fort, one of four Forts Built around Pretoria for protection against the British. The Fort now lies in Ruins, but still provides breathtaking views over the City of Pretoria.