Beautiful flowers make the Jacaranda a San Diego favorite

A tall Jacaranda brightens a La Jolla neighborhood with its crown of purple flowers. Jeremy W. Smith
A tall Jacaranda brightens a La Jolla neighborhood with its crown of purple flowers. Jeremy W. Smith

By Kelly Stewart

Most of the year, the

Jacaranda

is barely noticeable as a leafy thin tree that lines many of our boulevards and streets in La Jolla and San Diego. But in springtime, this tree comes alive with beautiful purple flowers that bloom and cascade onto the sidewalks below.

The genus

Jacaranda

(which is the scientific name as well as the common name) includes 49 different shrubs and trees and is not native to San Diego — it was introduced from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, as well as from the Caribbean. In Brazil, the wood of the Jacaranda is sometimes used for making acoustic guitars. Credit for importing the Jacaranda is generally given to Kate Sessions, who was San Diego’s celebrated horticulturist in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Often referred to as the Mother of Balboa Park, Kate Sessions imported many species including Jacaranda into the county, propagated them from 1892 onward in her nursery in what is now Balboa Park, and then distributed plants and seedlings throughout the city.

The Jacaranda is now finishing its spring bloom, just as we are welcoming summer. We’ll once again enjoy the flowers of the Jacaranda in the fall, when it experiences a less intense blooming period.

   
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