A fabulous range of trees, both familiar and unfamiliar

1043 Reviews

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Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

January, 2024

Product name

Aburi Botanical Gardens

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The Aburi Botanical Gardens, a 50-minute drive from Accra, are located on the grounds of a sanitorium built for British Gold Coast Colonial officials in 1875. However, because of the cool climate, it was turned into a botanical garden in 1890. In theory you should be able to see Accra in the distance, but because of the Harmattan (a cool dry wind that blows from the northeast or east in the western Sahara), views are constantly hazy.

Our guide told us there were ten ‘lawns’ spread over 65 hectares with each having a different theme.

The VIP lawn had trees planted by visiting guests including Queen Elizabeth II in 1961, and Prince Charles in 1977.

A spice lawn included nutmeg and mace, cinnamon, camphor, a huge bay which contrasted with our small bush at home, and an all-spice tree, which we always believed was a mixture of spices rather than an individual entity. Other trees had medicinal properties with the bark of the sky god’s tree being used for sores and ulcers, and a bark decoction being used to assist delivery of the placenta after childbirth.

The palm lawn included an Israeli palm with a long root or trunk running along the ground, and a Travellers Tree which derived its name from the fan of palms which provide water.

On one of the two lawns dedicated to children, stood a rusting US Army Sikorsky helicopter: Ghana participated in the UN peacekeeping force in the Congo, and when the mission was over in 1964, it obtained seven helicopters which were surplus to requirements.

A beautiful avenue of Lebanese cedars and spectacular Royal Palms lined the driveway. The genus name for the latter is Roystone Regia which honors General Roy Stone, a veteran of the US Civil War, and this provided a great photo opportunity for my husband Roy.

Whilst many of the trees were familiar, we’d never seen the monkey pot or pod tree with its huge fruits – which gets its name from the proverb ‘a wise old monkey doesn’t stick its hand into a pot’, as it had learnt to patiently pull out the nuts individually to avoid getting its hand stuck.

The strangler Ficus tree was equally amazing. It was first discovered in the fork of an Afzelia Africana (African mahogany) tree in 1906 and for the next 30 years grew until eventually it strangled and killed the host. The hollow inside the ficus was huge and demonstrated how big the host tree had been.

A silk cotton tree, which existed in the forest before the gardens were created, was named Lady Knutsford after her husband, Lord Knutsford, former Secretary of State for the Colonies. Unfortunately, having lived for 600 years, Lady Knutsford died and fell in July 2020 and remained prostrate on the ground.

A dead tree had been intricately carved with hundreds of human and animal figures piled on top of each other: it was known as the Tree of Life as it breathed life into the old wood. Flowers were few and far between and the only real splash of colour was a vibrant cerise bougainvillea.

Although we had a guide, the signs were well written and informative. For example, at the shea butter tree the board told us how the oil-rich kernels were pound and ground to extract the oil which is used in cooking, soap and candle making and the production of cosmetics.

We loved the hour we spent in the gardens, which also took in the old sanitorium building.

Helen Jackson

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