Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

The Wishing Tree story

The Wishing Tree is a very important tree in the Royal Botanic Garden. It’s a Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) with a very long history.

Way back in 1816 Mrs Macquarie, wife of Governor Macquarie, decided she wanted a Norfolk Island Pine planted in the Botanic Gardens. It was planted in a round garden bed on the eastern side of the Garden and became the tree where people made wishes.

In earlier times people believed that certain trees contained spirits and that you could make a wish by touching the trees or by walking around them three times forward then three times backward. This is how the idea of ‘wishing trees’ and the saying ‘touch wood’ originated.

The original Wishing Tree decayed with age and was removed in 1945. The first Wollemi Pine ever to be planted is now in the garden bed where the original Wishing Tree used to be, and there is now a second Wishing Tree planted in another round bed nearer the ponds. Unfortunately this one will never be as grand as the original because soon after it was planted its crown was damaged in a violent storm.

Mrs Macquarie

Make a wish

When you visit the Wishing Tree in the Royal Botanic Garden, be sure to make a wish. Follow these age-old instructions to help your wish come true.

  1. Close your eyes (no peeking, but can you smell the Wishing Tree?)
  2. Make a wish
  3. Walk forwards three times around the tree (with you eyes open now)
  4. Walk backwards three times around the tree (being as quiet as a tawny frogmouth).
  5. On your last time around, wish your wish again.

Try some calculations

  1. Mrs Macquarie’s Wishing Tree was planted in 1816 and removed in 1945. How many years did it grow in the Royal Botanic Garden?
  2. The second Wishing Tree was planted in 1935. How many years has it been in the Royal Botanic Garden?


Wishing Tree