Would the Jacaranda step forward please?

By Vita Forest


Late October, November.  Sydney Springtime.  In the Japanese Spring, they watch the progress of the cherry blossom buds during Hanami.  Here, we wait for mauve bell-shaped flowers to dazzle us. It’s time for the Jacaranda trees of Sydney to have their moment in the sun.

There are months when you don’t notice these trees, with their diminutive ferny leaves and bark that looks like dried cracked mud.  They stand quietly and patiently among the evergreens, before losing their leaves in yellow drifts, while incubating their surprising bunting.  At the moment, there is a faint purple hazing appearing over the canopy of the trees as the buds ripen.  Soon it will change from the merest watercolour-thin tint, to a solid gouache opaqueness.  The Jacaranda in full bloom.

Then you will see the Jacarandas across hills, across bays, across the harbour. Bursts of purple signalling through the scenery, making the green around them sing.  The fallen flowers will carpet the grass beneath them, amethyst over emerald, like a coloured shadow.

The tree is not a native here.  It hails from Central America.  There are lots of stories about why there are so many Jacarandas in Sydney. One of the most popular credits a bygone trend of giving new mothers a Jacaranda sapling to take home from hospital along with their new baby. Hard facts seem hard to find, but look around – they are here in abundance.

To some, they signal end-of-year exam time, in our family, it means birthday season.  Some people hate the slurry of fallen blossoms that make pathways treacherous and car roofs sticky.  Perhaps it is a tree you like to admire in someone else’s yard or in a park.  But take a ride on a Sydney ferry in a week or two and I defy you not to enjoy the Jacarandas having their moment in the spotlight.


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