Forest & Kim Starr
Plant Common Name
Few trees are as beautiful as this glorious, subtropical jacaranda. In spring, it bears magnificent large clusters of lavender-blue flowers. These often bloom before the leaves have fully emerged, which gives the vibrant blooms center stage for attention. This native of the forests of Paraguay, Bolivia, and northwestern Argentina is a medium-size, deciduous tree that develops an open, rounded, sometimes irregular canopy when mature.
Ferny foliage of medium to dark green cover its branches throughout the growing season. Jacaranda will flower at any time as long as the weather is warm and rainfall plentiful, but typically it blooms most heavily in spring. The clusters of lavender-blue trumpet or bell-shaped flowers appear at the branch tips. These are frequented by bees and followed by round, woody capsules that split open at the base and release lots of flattened, triangular-shaped, brown seeds. As the weather cools, or dries, for winter, the leaves drop to reveal an irregular, picturesque tree with grayish bark.
Grow jacaranda in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil that is gritty or sandy. In areas with light winter freezes, it will grow as a multi-stemmed, shrubby tender perennial. Elsewhere, it becomes more frost tolerant as it ages. To ensure flowering, it must have cool, dry winter weather. For this reason, it may only rarely flower if planted in the hot coastal tropics. In addition, if spring heat is not warm enough, flowering may also be inhibited.
Jacaranda is a glorious specimen or street tree, but be aware the pigment in the fallen flowers may stain pavement and automobile finishes. It is attacked by termites.
Soil pH seems to affect the precise color of flowers. In more alkaline soils, the blossoms display more pink-violet hues, but in acidic soil deeper blue pigments develop.