National Trust of Guyana

Half-way Tree

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Location: Mahaica District, East Coast Demerara 

Classification: Civil Landscape 

Period/ Year Built: Planted circa 1986 

Historical Background / Description: 

The Half-Way Tree is a silk cotton tree (also called the Kumaka or Koomaka) located near the centre of the Georgetown Rosignol Highway at Perseverance in the Mahaica district. A previous tree, which fell circa 1985 due to old age, may have been the inspiration for many folklores, plays and cultural pieces. Tales about the silk cotton tree can be traced back to the slavery era when the current Georgetown-Rosignol Highway was nothing more than a dirt track. It is believed that slaves during their rest periods used to congregate around the tree. There is also a tale of a Dutch plantation owner planting the tree to mark the site of his buried treasures. 

The Perseverance Half-way tree is also used as a landmark to indicate the halfway distance between Georgetown (51.5 kilometres (31.98 miles) away) and Rosignol (approximately 53 kilometres (33 miles) away). There are a number of speculations as to why the tree was not removed when the construction of the Georgetown-Rosignol Highway began. It is believed that some residents from the community pleaded with the engineer incharge not to have it removed due to its historical value; (there is also an unauthenticated tale that the engineer indeed tried to remove the tree, but all of the equipment used to clear it away got damaged once contact was made with the tree. This eventually caused him to rethink his strategy; after doing so, the engineer decided to work around the tree). In 1986, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Gordon D’Aguiar claimed to have planted the current silk cotton tree in its place. The Millennium Park was later established around the tree. A silk cotton tree usually takes 70-80 years to fully mature, and can grow as tall as 60.96 metres (200 feet).