Whitethorn acacia

  • Whitethorn acacia on Chinati's grounds.
  • Whitethorn acacia close-up.
  • Whitethorn acacia close-up.

With yellow puffball blooms, feather-like leaves, rattling seed pods and sharp thorns, the whitethorn acacia is straight out a Dr. Suess illustration. The plant’s miniature, yellow, spherical blooms appear in the spring and sometimes again in late summer. The fragrance from the flower stands out at night, permeating the air with a subtle, pleasantly sweet smell. This large desert plant grows from a few feet across to up to fifteen feet in height and width and can create thorny, dense, almost impenetrable thickets. The plant’s beans, leaves, roots, and flowers can be used to make medicinal teas and poultices. In addition, the beans are often ground into an edible flour.

Go for a walk in a nearby park or somewhere you can collect plant material. Collect plant material that has died and is on the ground. Remember, don’t pick any growing plants! Try to see if you can find a variety of different plant materials, such as leaves, seed pods, thorns, stems, petals, etc. When you return home, using paint, watercolor, or ink, use your materials like paintbrushes! Experiment with the different types of marks and lines you can make with these tools. How is painting with plants different from painting with a brush?