Monday, November 30, 2009

Acacia 'karroo' - Maree Clarkson

Acacia 'karroo' in Moleskine Watercolour sketch-book

This is one of South Africa's most beautiful and useful trees. It is integrally part of our country's history having been used for everything from raft-making to sewing needles and fencing for the houses of the royal Zulu women. The thorns were even used by early naturalists to pin the insects they collected! It is very widespread throughout southern Africa and there are different forms in some places, which can be confusing. Acacia karroo may be found from the Western Cape through to Zambia and Angola. In tropical Africa it is replaced by Acacia seyal. The name Acacia is derived from Greek "akis" a point or barb. Karroo is one of the old spellings of karoo which cannot be corrected because of the laws governing botanical nomenclature (giving of names).

The sweet thorn makes a beautiful garden specimen. The bright yellow flowers look very striking against the dark green foliage. The rough, dark brown bark is also most attractive. The flowers are sweetly scented and are renowned for attracting insects which are essential to any bird garden. Birds also like to make nests in thorn trees as the thorns offer them some protection from predators. Caterpillars of 10 species of butterflies are dependant on the tree for survival. These include, the club-tailed charaxes (Charaxes zoolina zoolina) and the topaz-spotted blue (Azanus jesous). In cold and dry areas like where I live, the tree is deciduous.

Regions where the Acacia 'karroo' can be found - I can be found approx. where the red dot is. (Click on map to enlarge)

To read more and see pics of the Acacia Karroo, go to Art & Creativity


  1. Interesting post! Those thorns do look wicked! Love those puffy yellow flower balls.

  2. Thank you Elizabeth! Sometimes some of the branches start stretching over the driveway and have to be trimmed back - with those thorns it's quite a job getting close enough!


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