Kirstenbosch NBG: Camphor Avenue
The trees of the Camphor Avenue are a remnant of the avenue of trees planted by Cecil John Rhodes in 1898 along what is now Rhodes Drive. He planted the trees to represent the outposts of the British Empire to honour Queen Victoria, hoping that she would visit the Cape. The more prosaic version tells that he planted them for shade and privacy along his favourite ride.
The path along which Rhodes planted his avenue was the old wagon road, probably in use since the late 1600s for dragging timber from the forests. Rhodes Avenue was not a public road until 1932. In the 1960s Prof. Rycroft fought the famous battle of the road and succeeded in getting the public road diverted away from Kirstenbosch and prevented Camphor Avenue from being demolished and converted into a highway. Read more about the early days of Kirstenbosch on the History page.
The section of Rhodes Drive that runs through Kirstenbosch includes camphor trees (Cinnamomum camphora) from China, Moreton Bay figs (Ficus macrophylla) from Australia and stone pines (Pinus pinea) from southern Europe. If you were to continue along Rhodes Drive in the direction of Hout Bay, you would find Spanish chestnuts (Castanea sativa) and cork oaks (Quercus suber).
Queen Victoria never saw the avenue, nevertheless we have inherited beautiful trees forming a magnificent avenue, where a variety of shade-loving bulbs, cycads, ferns and herbaceous plants thrive under the spreading canopy. You will see yellow and orange Clivia miniata in the spring, dainty Streptocarpus in the summer, and in autumn the avenue is painted blue, purple and white by Plectranthus. You will also see magnificent specimens of the shade-loving Encephalartos paucidentatus (Barberton Cycad)
A frequent visitor to Camphor Avenue is the Cape Eagle Owl (Bubo africanus). They cause quite a stir, while they doze in the trees, ignoring their admirers on the ground below.