Famous Trees of Africa

Find out how an acacia, a fig and a cotton tree in the second largest and second most populous continent in the world became famous, and read about the sad story of a solitary tree that will sure to tug your heart.

Drago Milenaryo

Icod de los Vinos is a small town in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of mainland Africa. For more than a hundred years, a dragon tree (Dracaena draco) has always been a local tourist attraction of the place. In fact, the interesting looking tree has become the symbol of Icod. Although no study has yet confirmed the age of the tree, it is believed to be standing there for thousands of years. The tree was described and illustrated in the “Atlas Picturesque” (1810) by German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt.

Cotton Tree

During the American War of Independence, a group of African American slaves were returned to Sierra Leone to settle in the “Province of Freedom”.  The former captives were said to have been gathered around the Cotton Tree which was said to have previously been a slave market. Other groups of freed slaves (whom were from different parts of Africa) gathered on the settlement and called the place Freetown, now the largest city and also the capital of Sierra Leone. The Cotton Tree is believed to be more than 500 years old today. It is a treasured symbol of the city.

The African Baobab

The African Baobab (Adansonia digitata) is the biggest and most widespread species of Baobabs. It's a traditional food plant in Africa and has been called by various names including: upside-down tree, botanical monster, tree of life and monkey bread tree. The tree is leafless during most time of the year giving it a weird appearance as if its roots are sticking up in the air. Legend has it that the devil pulled out the tree and planted it upside down. Baobabs are believed to be the oldest living residents on Earth. Through carbon-dating one of them was found to be 6,000 years old. If you're visiting Africa, the trees are definitely a must-see!


Wonderboom (Wonder Tree; Miracle Tree) is a wild willow leaf fig (Ficus salicifolia) tree which is the center of attraction on the 1 sq km Wonderboom Nature Reserve in Pretoria, a city in South Africa. Legend has it that the more than 1,000 year old tree grew so big as beneath its roots lies buried a native tribal chief. The tree, which was discovered in 1836, was reported to be once big enough to shade 1,000 people at a time. The tree’s branches have grown longer; drooping lower and lower that they are touching the ground, rooted and produced daughter trees that now surrounds the original tree. The tree is considered unusual as Ficus salicifolia seldom grows taller than 9 m (29 ft); the Wonderbooom stands taller than 23 m (75 ft).

Arbre du Ténéré

The Tenere is a desert region in the south central Sahara with an extremely hot and dry climate and virtually no plant life. Yet, until 1973, there was a very well known lonely acacia tree called the Tree of Ténéré (L’Arbre du Ténéré) that become a landmark on caravan routes and was even shown on a map. For decades, the tree had stood alone in the vast arid desert near a 40-meter-deep well until a drunk driver allegedly knocked it down. In remembrance to what was once considered to be the most isolated tree on Earth, a metal pole was put in its place today.

See Tree of Ténéré album