Acacia: African Inspirations - Bonsai Tree (Pty) Ltd.

Acacia: African Inspirations – Bonsai Tree (Pty) Ltd.

The next article was written by Leigh Kemp. When you missed his different articles make sure you learn them right here.

My dad as soon as instructed me a narrative a few tree within the Sahara that he had heard of while preventing within the desert through the WW2. He had heard that the tree was the one one for 250 miles in both route. I can’t keep in mind the circumstances across the telling of the story but it surely resonated deeply. The thought of a gnarled, distant tree surviving in opposition to the chances has impressed me all through my life’s journey.

I now know that the tree my dad was telling me about is the Tree of Ténéré in Niger, the loneliest, or most remoted, tree on earth. It was the only real survivor of a gaggle of timber that thrived in much less parched instances. The tree stood alone for many years. The Tree of Ténéré was an acacia – the species was both A. tortillas or A. raddiana

The loneliest tree on earth, or it was until it was knocked over!

A landmark for caravans of the Sahara, the tree lastly succumbed in 1973 – knocked over by a drunk truck driver. The one tree for 400 kms and a drunkard drives into it!

Fascination with acacias

Throughout my early years I used to be additionally fascinated by pictures of flat topped and umbrella formed acacias on the plains of Africa. These timber had been typically alone in footage, giving the impression that the timber had been dotted sparsely throughout the plains. Giraffe and topi antelope had been typically added to the image.

A Topi surveying the land from its vantage level

Acacias of Africa have now been renamed into two genus’: Vachellia and Senegallia – the genus Acacia now applies to the wattles of Australia. For the sake of the story I’ll proceed to confer with the African timber as Acacia

Over time I’ve been privileged to have travelled in lots of components of Africa and seen many species of Acacias. The shapes and kinds of the totally different species have had me intrigued for so long as I’ve travelled. The Acacias have supplied inspiration for artists, photographers, writers, conservationists and dreamers for hundreds of years. Arguably probably the most well-known of those impressed artists is South African painter Jacob Hendrik Pierneef.

Umbrella thorn, Pierneef kind

Pierneef’s work was impressed by the South African panorama, with the acacia’s taking part in an enormous position in his artwork. His very best was to simplify the panorama and produce concord and order to nature. Such is his artistry that his title is used to explain one of many African kinds of Bonsai by South African bonsai artist; Charles Ceronio, now deceased. This model is related principally with Africa acacias such because the V. tortilis or Umbrella Thorn and the V. erioloba or camel thorn.

A sensible previous Acacia on the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro

Each the umbrella thorn and the camel thorn can develop into the famed umbrella crown, however each can develop into untidy and scrubby bushes relying on the soil and animals that feed on them. In areas the place goats are stored, the timber seldom develop into something resembling the attribute crown.

The umbrella thorn is the tree that gives the traditional pictures on the Serengeti plains and as such is among the most photographed species in Africa. An iconic picture of the African safari is of a leopard mendacity on a department of an umbrella acacia – or feeding on a carcass it pulled into the tree.

In search of shade below the umbrella of an Acacia on the plains of the Serengeti.

A focal point is that the wooden of the umbrella thorn was utilized by the Israelites within the Outdated Testomony within the making of tabernacle furnishings, together with the Ark of the Covenant.

Flat High Type

Tanzanian Acacia within the so-called Flat High kind.

One other African model of Bonsai impressed by acacias is the Flat High Fashion which is generally based mostly on the paperbark acacia [V. sieberana]and the flat high acacia[V. abyssinica]. Not like the Pierneef model umbrella formed timber with dome-type tops, the flat high timber are precisely because the title says, flat topped.

It should be said that many species of acacias can develop both a flat high or umbrella high relying on circumstances.

Why umbrella or flat topped?

Throughout my guiding years I used to be typically requested about acacias and why they grew as they did on the African Savannahs. After a few years of analysis and private commentary I can provide explanations starting from herbivore exercise, soil sort, local weather and area of interest taking part in a task. I can safely say that each one these components play a task.

Typical types of Acacia seen within the Jap Cape.

I grew up within the Jap Cape Province of South Africa, within the Kei River Valley, the place the candy thorn [Vachellia karroo] is the dominant acacia within the space. The tree grows in numerous dimensions and shapes in response to the place it’s within the space and what inventory grazes on the farm. The acacia timber on cattle farms are bigger, and extra different in form, than the timber on goat farms. As we all know goats will eat the whole lot of their path and the timber are stored effectively and really trimmed.

Acacia in each flat and umbrella types rising in a gaggle.

As with many acacias the candy thorn is managed by local weather and soils. In greater rainfall areas and deeper soils the timber are taller and bigger whereas in areas such because the Karoo they’re usually smaller. Karoo timber are additionally stored trimmed by higher use by herbivores.

The most important candy thorn acacias I’ve seen are within the Okavango Delta in Botswana on the bigger everlasting islands the place the soil is fertilised by the annual floods.

Giraffe do a terrific job of preserving Acacia neatly trimmed.

However why the Umbrella or flat tops?

The open savannahs are the locations the place we discover probably the most dramatic flat high and umbrella formed timber. Within the Serengeti ecosystem, the huge open grassland in East Africa, you could find remoted timber, or small stands of acacias with the creative shapes. However why is it that on this seemingly very fertile plain there are so few acacias?

Not to enter an excessive amount of element, however the Serengeti has a really shallow soil deposit which ensures the vitamins keep within the shallow layer – and the grass supplies for the nice herds. The explanation for the shallow soils is due to the layer of lava from the ‘explosion’ of the Kilimanjaro-type volcanic mountain that stood the place the Ngorongoro Crater now could be.

Acacia rising within the Ngorongoro Crater with its large cover, maybe to guard the shallow root system under.

The lava deposit lined an enormous space, which over time was lined by mud blown earth. The grasses took root and flourished however the deep-rooted timber struggled within the shallow soils. It’s stated that the umbrella shapes occurred in order to guard the now-shallow root system by offering shade from the warmth, and as some have surmised, offering shade for the animals to shelter below and as such stopping different animals from digging up the roots.

One other clarification is that in wooded areas the timber develop upwards to hunt daylight however on the open plains there isn’t any competitors so the canopies develop outwards. Animals akin to giraffe do feed on the canopies however not in nice sufficient numbers to maintain the tree trimmed.

Offering for nature

The pods of acacia timber are used as fodder for home inventory and are a lot wanted delicacies for wildlife, together with antelope, baboons and monkeys.

A drowned Acacia is a well-liked roost for birds in search of refuge from predators

I’ve watched impalas ready below camel thorn and umbrella thorn timber while baboons feed on the seeds within the timber. The impalas know that the baboons will drop seed pods. Elephants have a style too for the pods, typically shaking a tree to dislodge them. The leaves are additionally consumed by giraffe and elephants. It isn’t uncommon to see elephants standing on their hind legs to succeed in as much as the leaves within the crown of the tree.

A Gerenuk impressively stands on its hind legs to succeed in the tastiest Acacia leaves

Impressed by nature

There are lots of causes given for the shapes of the acacia timber of Africa and in these causes are disagreements. One factor will not be argued, nonetheless, and that’s that the Acacias of Africa are inspiring in no matter form they might be rising in.Tall, gnarled and even seemingly deformed, these timber improve the panorama.

Concerning the creator: Leigh Kemp grew up in nature on a distant farm within the Jap Cape. This geared him to a lifetime of travelling the wild locations of Africa for greater than 35 years as a wilderness information, tour information, journey author and conservationist – studying and amassing data and pictures on all facets of the African wilderness. Go to his web site right here, contact him immediately on kempleigh06[at] or name him on +27 79 596 6671.

Loved this text? Need extra? 

Together with many others within the journey trade, Leigh Kemp has been left with out an earnings on account of COVID-19. You may make a distinction although. Any donations will go straight and in full to him. Use the QR codes under to donate, contact me at information[at] for his financial institution particulars so you’ll be able to EFT him immediately or I can ship a bank card fee hyperlink. He and his household will tremendously admire it.


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