A few weeks ago, a couple of us guides at Singita Sabi Sand went out on an afternoon activity to share some knowledge and learn from one another. We started off and after a couple of minutes of driving found ourselves under the canopy of amazing riverine trees including jackalberries, (also known as an African ebony which is where Ebony lodge got its name), Natal mahoganies, river thorns and cluster figs. We then stopped at my favourite and largest tree on the reserve. A very large leadwood tree stood towering above us in ancient grandeur. We all got out to have a closer look and to touch this amazing ancient tree and we tried to guess how old a tree like this could be.
Leadwood trees grow very slowly, about 2,5 cm (1 inch) a year and are extremely dense as a result, around 1 200 kg per cubic meter. This density makes it sink in water! The circumference of this tree was around 4 m and it stood at least 25 – 30 m tall. Taking all of this into consideration we estimate the tree to be around 2 000 years old. When you say 2 000 years, its sound pretty impressive, but if you put it into a timeline perspective , that’s when it really gets interesting!
So, a small look at what happened around 2 000 years ago until a couple of hundred years ago with some historical events:
1: The death of Cleopatra 30 BC
2: The start of the Christian era
3: The prophet Mohammad is born (570 AD)
4: The oldest university is formed, The University of Bologna (1088)
5: The first Crusades start (1095 AD)
6: The start and fall of the Inca and Aztec empires (1327 AD)
7: European settlers arrive at The Cape of Good Hope (1652 AD)
8: Edison patents the first electric lightbulb (1897 AD)
9: First human in space (1961 AD)
These are just a few moments, but hopefully it helps to showcase this amazing tree’s history.