Plant collector: Jacaranda mimosifolia

The summer delight of the jacaranda

The summer delight of the jacaranda

South Africans could be forgiven for thinking that this tree is one of their indigenous species. Pretoria has so many planted that it is apparently a haze of blue in late spring to early summer. In fact it comes from Bolivia and Argentina but is a worldwide hit because blue flowered trees are not common at all when you think about it. Nearer to home, when we last visited Whakatane, they too had used this summer flowering delight as a street tree. But it is nowhere near as common where winters are wet or in inland areas because it is a subtropical plant. Our tree is growing in a protected position, surrounded by other trees, rather than standing in solitary splendour so its blue-as-blue floral display is best seen out of our upstairs windows.

Jacarandas are deciduous and make an airy, open tree. After many years ours has reached around nine metres high, though it will have been stretched up by the trees around it. The flowering season lasts many weeks but it does appear that cooler temperatures delay the season until mid summer. In less than ideal conditions, it will need a sheltered, favoured position with excellent drainage in the warmest possible situation. It is classified as a member of the Bignoniaceae family though most gardeners will just recognise it as a legume.

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