Joh Del’s Botanical Illustrations

WORDS Michaela Stehr IMAGES via Joh Del on Etsy


Illustrator and graphic designer Johan de Lange, aka Joh Del, creates detailed botanical illustrations of indigenous flora.

One of Johan’s most recognisable pieces is the Flowering Plants of South Africa fine art print, featuring a collection of 85 interesting and useful South African plants.

Not only a work of art, the piece also includes the plants’ scientific names, aiding in identification, and features the bugs and critters used for pollination, too. The original work took three months to complete, from research to sketching in pencil, drawing in ink and printing. “Inspired by historical botanical illustrations, I wanted to create a classic botanical chart in a fresh style that is beautiful as a work of art, but also functions as a practical chart for identifying the flowering plants,” says Johan.

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Flowering Plants of South Africa No.20 Vachellia karroo – sweet thorn (English) soetdoring (Afrikaans) mooka (Tswana) umuNga (Zulu/Xhosa) . Jou ou doring. 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! And also as replacement needles for gramophone players. It is very widespread throughout southern Africa. . The flowers appear in early summer in a mass of yellow pompons. They produce lots of nectar and pollen for bee-farming and the honey has a pleasant flavour. Many other insects also visit and pollinate these flowers. . Birds like to make nests in the trees as the thorns offer them protection from predators. Caterpillars of 10 species of butterflies are dependant on the tree for survival. . The sweet thorn gets its common name from the gum which is exuded from wounds in the bark. This pleasant tasting gum is eaten by people and animals, including the Bushbaby which feeds exclusively on insects and gum from trees. It also had commercial value in the past when the gum was exported as "Cape Gum" for making confectionary. This is similar to gum arabic which is used as a water soluble glue. It is a particularly good fodder tree, stock and game feed on the leaves, flowers and pods. Seed dispersal takes place this way. The bark contains tannin which is used to tan leather to a reddish colour. A strong rope can be made from the inner bark which is pliable enough for rope-making when it is wet. . The sweet thorn has many medicinal uses ranging from wound poultices to eye treatments and cold remedies. The bark, leaves and gum are usually used. It is also used to treat cattle which have tulp poisoning from eating poisonous bulbs. . Source: Sanbi #flowers #plantart #plantsofinstagram #kunstformendernatur #artshapesinnature #shapesinnature #floweringplants #naturalhistory #sciart #southafricanart #africanart #educationalart #botanicalart #art #botanicalillustration #illustration #floweringplantsofsouthafrica

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Joh Delโ€™s Etsy shop also stocks a collection of imaginative cities, birds, woodland scenes and a colouring book.

See more of his work on Instagram.