Forest 103 - Clanwilliam Cedar or Clanwilliam Cypress

Widdringtonia wallichii

The Anglo-Boer War Ceremonial Tree Planting

On Sunday 26th June 2011, Ms Katy Gallagher, Chief Minister of the ACT, joined with members of the National Boer War Memorial Association ACT, RSL and ex-service organisations, Regional Mayors, Federal Government and National Arboretum representatives and Boer War descendants to plant Clanwilliam cedars in Forest 103 in memory of the almost 1,000 Australian service men and women who sacrificed their lives during the Boer War.

Twenty three thousand Australian served alongside six thousand New Zealander service men and women during the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War. The Clanwilliam cedar forest will continue to grow for many years, serving as a reminder of those who served and died during the Anglo-Boer War. More about the Ceremonial Tree Planting, including the names and photos of people who planted the trees and a location map of the trees, can be found here.

Widdringtonia cedarbergensis immature seed cones. Photo not from the Arboretum Widdringtonia cedarbergensis tree growing in the Cederberg Mountains in South Africa

Other common names

Clanwilliam cedar, Cape cedar; Africaans: Clanwilliamseder, Sederboom.

Origin of the species name

Widdringtonia is named after Samuel Edward Widdrington (1787-1856) who was a Commander of the British Royal Navy and was interested in conifers.



Date planted

June 2011 to commemorate almost 1000 Australian service men and women who lost their lives in the Boer War (1899-1902) and the many other Australians who served there.


Trees of this species can live for over 1000 years.

Widdringtonia leaves and branches. Photo not from the Arboretum 

General description

This is a medium-sized tree with a spreading crown and tessellated reddish bark on the trunks. The juvenile leaves are needle-like but the adult leaves are scale like and lie flat against the stem. The cones are dark-brown, spherical, rough and warty. Height 12m Spread 6m.

Natural distribution and habitat

The species is native to South Africa. Remnant populations are restricted to rocky ridges and cliffs often growing among boulders in conditions of hot summers and cold winters. The boulders provide protection from frequent fires. Although they can reshoot from seed released after fire they are slow to re-establish and repeated fires greatly limit recovery.

Conservation status

It is classified as critically endangered. The number of trees remaining in the wild has been greatly reduced. Some attempts have been made to start restoring the species.

Planting pattern

Planted in curved lines with straight lines marking the perimeter.


The light yellow wood, which takes a fine polish and is borer-proof. Being a very long-lasting wood it was used for building, shipbuilding and telegraph poles. The clear, hard gum, yielded by the cones and branches, was once used medicinally in the treatment of gout, rheumatism or swellings. It was also used for making plasters and as a varnish. It was used for the church pews, doors and altar of the in Clanwilliam Old Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa. The Clanwilliam Church was built in 1864 and has been a scheduled national monument since 1973. The Clanwilliam Church is commonly known today as the "Flower Church" where the annual wild flower show is held.

Further reading

Farjon, A (2010) A Handbook of the World’s Conifers. Brill.