Ngunis among Acacia Karroo

3 Nguni cattle and thorn trees
Three Ngunis & Acacia Karroo

Having grown up in a family of botanists, it is hard to separate myself from the African bush and beautiful flora that was a big part of my youth. Acacia Karroo is a species of thorn tree, that is unique in that it grows naturally around here in the karoo, where we live in South Africa, and is also to be found around Salisbury ( Harare) and many other parts of Rhodesia, (Zimbabwe) where I grew up. I never really pursued a botanical career myself, as did my brother, John Burrows (, who has written several wonderful scientific botanical books.  I also don’t have many tree books, except one old treasured copy of, “Trees of Central Africa” by Keith Coates Palgrave. This book plate of Acacia Karroo, is beautifully painted by his mother, Olive H. Coates Palgrave.                       

Coates Palgrave / Acacia Karroo
Acacia Karroo / Sweet Thorn. painted by Olive H. Coates Palgrave

I do not aspire to being a botanical artist like my talented sister in law, but this pencil sketch was done in the spirit of this study.

Acacia Karroo / Sweet thorn. Pencil sketch.
Acacia Karroo / Sweet thorn. Pencil sketch.

I wanted to explore the visual contrasts between the Acacia Karroo, and the Nguni cattle that are often seen grazing amongst them. The patterned hides of the Nguni cattle, against the network of white thorn-covered trees was an interesting contrast, and the focus of this series of these 3 paintings.

Nguni in Acacia thornveld.
Nguni Herd in Acacia thornveld.

Ngunis against thorn bush.
Thorn Bush Ngunis



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3 responses to “Ngunis among Acacia Karroo”

  1. Maree Clarkson Avatar

    Your paintings are absolutely beautiful Barbara, refreshing and a joy to the eye!

  2. Sue Pownall Avatar

    This is lovely Barbara. I like the acacia drawing too. We have a form of acacia here (no tree books in my house, so no idea what) and I’ve only sketched the tree, never a detail. I’m inspired. Thanks

    1. Barbara Avatar

      Thanks Sue ! Acacias do very well in arid regions ! Yes botanical art is great fun ! I had ambitions once to illustrate a botanical book of the flora of our area, but had no-one interested in doing the text, so it never happened, but only a handful of colour drawings came out of it. :)

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