Jacaranda mimosifolia is a sub-tropical tree native to south-central South America that has been widely planted elsewhere because of its beautiful and long-lasting blue flowers. It is also known as jacaranda, blue jacaranda, black poui, or as the fern tree. Older sources give it the systematic name Jacaranda acutifolia, but it is nowadays more usually classified as Jacaranda mimosifolia. In scientific usage, the name "Jacaranda" refers to the genus Jacaranda, which has many other members, but in horticultural and everyday usage, it nearly always means the blue jacaranda.
The blue jacaranda has been cultivated in almost every part of the world where there is no risk of frost; established trees can however tolerate brief spells of temperatures down to around −7 °C (19 °F). In the USA, 48 km (30 mi) east of Los Angeles where winter temperatures can dip to −12 °C (10 °F) for short several-hour periods, the mature tree survives with little or no visible damage.
In the United States, it grows in parts of Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Florida, the Mediterranean coast of Spain, in southern Portugal (very noticeably in Lisbon), southern Italy (in Naples and Cagliari it's quite easy to come across beautiful specimens) and on the Island of Malta (where it flowers earlier than mainland Europe). It was introduced to Cape Town by Baron von Ludwig in about 1829. It is regarded as an invasive species in parts of South Africa and Queensland, Australia, the latter of which has had problems with the Blue Jacaranda preventing growth of native species. Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, also see the growth of many Jacarandas.
The tree grows to a height of 5 to 15 m (16 to 49 ft). Its bark is thin and grey-brown in colour, smooth when the tree is young though it eventually becomes finely scaly. The twigs are slender and slightly zigzag; they are a light reddish-brown in colour. The flowers are up to 5 cm (2.0 in) long, and are grouped in 30 cm (12 in) panicles. They appear in spring and early summer, and last for up to two months. They are followed by woody seed pods, about 5 cm (2.0 in) in diameter, which contain numerous flat, winged seeds. The Blue Jacaranda is cultivated even in areas where it rarely blooms, for the sake of its large compound leaves. These are up to 45 cm (18 in) long and bi-pinnately compound, with leaflets little more than 1 cm (0.39 in) long. There is a white form available from nurseries.
Profuse flowering is regarded as magnificent by some and quite messy by others. The unusually shaped, tough pods, which are 5.1 to 7.6 cm (2 to 3 in) across, are often gathered, cleaned and used to decorate Christmas trees and dried arrangements.
The wood is pale grey to whitish, straight-grained, relatively soft and knot-free. It dries without difficulty and is often used in its green or wet state for turnery and bowl carving.
The taxonomic status of the blue jacaranda is unsettled. ITIS regards the older name, Jacaranda acutifolia, as a synonym for J. mimosifolia. However, some modern taxonomists maintain the distinction between these two species, regarding them as geographically distinct: J. acutifolia is endemic to Peru, while J. mimosifolia is native to Bolivia and Argentina. If this distinction is made, cultivated forms should be treated as J. mimosifolia, since they are believed to derive from Argentine stock. Other synonyms for the Blue Jacaranda are Jacaranda chelonia and J. ovalifolia. The Blue Jacaranda belongs to the section Monolobos of the genus Jacaranda.
Popular culture references
Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa is popularly and poetically known as Jacaranda City or Jakarandastad in Afrikaans because of the large number of trees which turn the city blue when they flower in spring. The name Jakarandastad is frequently used in Afrikaans songs, such as in Staan Op by Kurt Darren.
Jacarandas are widely grown as ornamental trees in Australia. The popular Christmas song Christmas Where The Gum Trees Grow makes reference to Jacaranda trees, as the blooms are only seen in summer time — as the song explains, "When the bloom of the jacaranda tree is here, Christmas time is near". The University of Queensland in Brisbane is particularly well known for its ornamental jacarandas, and a common maxim among students holds that the blooming of the jacarandas signals the time for serious study for end-of-year exams.
In Argentina, writer Alejandro Dolina, in his book Crónicas del Ángel Gris ("Chronicles of the Gray Angel"), tells the legend of a massive jacarandá tree planted in Plaza Flores (Flores Square) in Buenos Aires, which was able to whistle tango songs on demand. María Elena Walsh dedicated her Canción del Jacarandá song to the tree. Also Miguel Brascó's folk song Santafesino de veras mentions the aroma of jacarandá as a defining feature of the littoral Santa Fe Province (along with the willows growing by the rivers).
British singer songwriter Steve Tilston eulogizes the beautiful blue tree he encountered in Australia with his song "Jacaranda" (track 11 on his album Ziggurat, 2008).
Water extract of Jacaranda mimosifolia shows higher antimicrobial action in vitro against Bacillus cereus and Escherichia coli than gentamicin sulfate does. The extract also acts against Staphylococcus aureus in vitro.
leaves in Hyderabad, India.
flowers in Hyderabad, India.
fruits in Hyderabad, India.
trunk in Hyderabad, India.
May 2010, Martin County, Florida
- "Jacaranda mimosifolia information from NPGS/GRIN". www.ars-grin.gov. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
- for full lyrics
- UQ Centenary 2010 - Jacaranda and Sandstone
- Rojas, Jhonj; Ochoa, Veronicaj; Ocampo, Saula; Muñoz, Johnf (17 February 2006). "Screening for antimicrobial activity of ten medicinal plants used in Colombian folkloric medicine: A possible alternative in the treatment of non-nosocomial infections". Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 6: 2. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-2. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
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- Prado (1998). Jacaranda mimosifolia. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Listed as Vulnerable (VU B1+2ac v2.3)
- Missouri Botanical Garden
- Dressler, S.; Schmidt, M. & Zizka, G. (2014). "Jacaranda mimosifolia". African plants – a Photo Guide. Frankfurt/Main: Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg.