‘The Big Tree’ found in Chirinda forest that is a national monument remains the most unique indigenous tree that has stood the test of time despite only attracting a sizeable number of tourists.
According to the Forestry Commission, the impressive ‘Big Tree’ first measured in 1920 is the country’s tallest indigenous tree which is now 407 years old, 62 metres tall and 15 metres in diameter.
The tree had reached 65 metres before it was slightly damaged by cyclone Eline clipping off three meters from the pride of Chirinda forest.
Located in the finest and biggest natural forest in the country with a unique combination of tropical and subtropical vegetation species, the ‘Big Tree’ is well protected and remains a unique feature of the majestic Chirinda forest, notes Chipinge district forestry officer Mr Clasport Karimanzira.
Karimanzira said the tree is not only important because of its size but also because of its medicinal values adding efforts to groom a replacement of the ‘Big Tree’ are underway and a natural successor is likely to be found after about 40 years from now in the same area.
A local traditional leader Chief Mapungwana said the community protects and values the ‘Big Tree’ and the entire forest with those found disturbing the forest facing stern measures as the tree has historical relevance to the Ndau people.
The red mahogany’s botanical name is khaya anthotheca while in Shona it is known as ‘Muhawa’ and blooms in November when the small white flowers open to the sun.