Age-old tree preserved

2015-09-15 06:00
Ward Councillor Dave Bryant; Charles Barnes and John Jonkers who both work in the Company’s Garden; Henk Griessel of Tru-Cape and Alderman Belinda Walker (front) at the planting of a cloned sapling  at the front

PHOTO: 
city of cape Town

Ward Councillor Dave Bryant; Charles Barnes and John Jonkers who both work in the Company’s Garden; Henk Griessel of Tru-Cape and Alderman Belinda Walker (front) at the planting of a cloned sapling at the front PHOTO: city of cape Town

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A cloned sapling has been planted to preserve South Africa’s oldert cultivate tree.

At 360 years old, the Saffron Pear is located in the Company’s Garden.

In 2013, the tree’s genetic value was preserved when Tru-Cape took bud graft material from the tree and propagated this on rootstock. This is equivalent to cloning as the buds retain exactly the same genetic characteristics as the original tree.

ON Friday 11 September, the City of Cape Town with Tru-Cape, preserved the new generation of the Saffron Pear tree for another few centuries when a cloned sapling was planted next to the parent tree.

The tree is enclosed by a cast-iron railing and supported by poles and braces due to its extreme age for a tree of its species.

The Pyrus communis or Saffron Pear tree is approximately 363 years old this year, and was planted during the time of Jan van Riebeeck.

Mayoral committee member for community services and special projects Belinda Walker says another of the saplings will be planted in the VOC vegetable garden’s orchard section and it is hoped that both trees will grow for another 360 years.

“We need to preserve what we have so that future generations will know the history of the fruit tree industry in the Western Cape which was started years ago by dedicated gardeners who cultivated the first fruits at the Cape of Good Hope,” she says.

The Saffron Pear tree standing to this day is all that is left of a circle of Saffron Pear trees planted in the middle of the Company’s Garden hundreds of years ago

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