Arbor Week and Trees of the Year

Trees of the Year 2000-2020

Download a List of Protected Trees in South Africa

Download the 2011 Trees of the Year Poster


A Brief History of Arbor Day

Arbor Day originated in 1872 in the United States territory of Nebraska. Mr. J. Sterling Morton, a newcomer to the treeless plains of Nebraska, was a keen proponent of the beauty and benefit of trees. He persuaded the local agricultural board to set aside a day for planting trees and through his position as editor of Nebraska's first newspaper, encouraged participation in the event by publishing articles on the value of trees for soil protection, fruit, shade and building. Mr. Morton's home, known as Arbor Lodge, was a testament to his love for trees and so inspired the name of the holiday; Arbor Day. Within two decades Arbor Day was celebrated in every US State and territory, and eventually spread around the world. The tradition continues annually in the second week of August, in global acknowledgment of Mr. Morton's slogan, "other holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future."

In South Africa, Arbor Day was first celebrated in 1983. The event captured the imagination of people who recognized the need for raising awareness of the value of trees in our society. As sources of building material, food, medicine, and simple scenic beauty, trees play a vital role in the health and well-being of our communities. Collective enthusiasm for the importance of this issue in South Africa inspired the national government, in 1999, to extend the celebration of Arbor Day to National Arbor Week. From 1 to 7 September every year, schools, businesses and organizations are encouraged to participate in community "greening" events to improve the health and beauty of the local environment and propose a green future for South Africa.


Trees of the Year
2000- 2015

To help increase public awareness of just a few of the 2,000 indigenous tree species in South Africa, every Arbor Week celebration will highlight two specific trees; one common and one rare species. In the list below the more common tree is named first.

Year Common Tree Rare ( Uncommon) Trees
2000 Peltophorum africanum African wattle, Huilboom Salix mucronata Safsaf willow, Kaapse wilger
2001 Loxostylis alata Tarwood, Teerhout Ptaeroxylon obliquum Sneezewood, Nieshout
2002 Pittosporum viridiflorum Cheesewood,
Alberta magna Natal flame bush,
2003 Rhus chirendensis Red currant,
Pterocarpus angolensis Wild teak,

Kirkia acuminata and K. wilmsii White seringa, Mountain seringa, Witsering, Bergsering

Combretum bracteosum Hiccup nut,
2005 Schefflera umbellifera False cabbage tree, Basterkiepersol Adansonia digitata Baobab, Kremetart
2006 Burchellia bubalina Wild pomegranate,
Raphia australis Kosi palm, Kosipalm
2007 Rhus pyroides Common wild currant,
Gewone Taaibos
Pavetta schumanniana Poison Bride's Bush
2008 Harpephyllum caffrum Wild plum, Wildepruim

Diospyros whyteana Bladder -nut, Swartbas

Markhamia zanzibarica Bell bean tree,

2009 Acacia galpinii Money thorn, Apiesdoring

Halleria lucida Tree fuchsia, Notsung

Pterocarpus rotundifolius Round-leaved Teak, Dopperkiaat


Acacia xanthophloea Fever tree, Koorsboom

Rothmania capensis Cape gardenia, Kaapse Katjiepiering
Rothmannia globosa Bell gardenia, Klokkies-Katjiepiering

Cladostemon kirkii Tonga-kerrie, Tongakierie

2011 Pappea capensis Jacket-plum, Doppruim

Genus Pavetta Bride's Bushes, Bruidsbome

Nuxia congesta Common Wild Elder, Gewone wildevlier

2012 Syzygium cordatum Water berry, Waterbessie

Protorhus longifolia Red Beech, Rooiboekenhout

Bruguiera gymnorrhiza Black Mangrove, Swart-wortelboom

2013 Virgilia oroboides Blossom tree, Keurboom

Grewia occidentalis Cross-berry, Kruisbessie

Barringtonia racemosa Powder-puff Tree, Poeierkwas-boom

2014 Genus Heteropyxis Lavender trees, Laventelbome Vepris lanceolata White ironwood, Witysterhout
2015 Combretum krausii Forest bushwilow, Bosvaderlandswilg Heteromorpha arborescens Parsley tree, Wildepieterseliebos
2016 Ficus thonningii Common wild fig, Gewone wildevy Maerua cafra Common bush-cherry, Gewone witbos
Maerua angolensis Bead-bean tree, Knoppiesboontjieboom
2017 Ziziphus mucronata Hairy buffalo-thorn, Harige blinkblaar wag-n-bietjie Euclea pseudebenus Ebony tree, Ebbeboom

Genus Podocarpus Yellowwoods, Geelhoutbome
P. elongatus, P. falcatus, P. henkelii, P. latifolius

Boscia albitrunca Shepherd's tree, Witgat
2019 Sclerocarya birrea Marula Maroela Philenoptera violacea Apple-leaf, Appelblaar
2020 Ekebergia capensis Cape ash, Essenhout Adansonia digitata Baobab,Kremetart

(Information provided by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. January 2008)

Trees of year 1975-1998

1975 Podocarpus - yellowwood species
1976 Pinus species - pine trees
1977 Celtis africana - white stinkwood
1978 Eucalyptus species - gum trees
1979 none
1980 Ocotea species - stinkwood
1981 Acacia species - thorn trees
1982 Erythrina species - coral trees
1983 Rhus species - karee species
1984 Ficus species - wild figs
1985 Bauhinia species
1986 Protea species
1987 Cussonia species - cabbage trees
1988 Olea species - wild olives
1989 Calodendrum capense - Cape chestnut
1990 Quercus species - oaks
1991 Trichilia species - red ashes
1992 Dais cotonifolia - pompom tree
1993 Schotia brachypetala - weeping boer-bean
1994 Bolusanthus speciosus - tree wistaria
1995 Combretum erythrophyllum -river bushwillow
1996 Warburgia salutaris ( pepperbark)
and Kiggelaria africana (wild peach)
1997 Rapanea melanophloeos (Cape beech)
and Ziziphus rivularis (false buffalo thorn)
1998 Apodytes dimidiata (white pear)
and Greyia flanaganii (Kei beacon tree)



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