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The Beautiful Jacaranda Tree

Updated on June 1, 2012
In full bloom
In full bloom
Close-up of one flower (a tree has  tons of them)
Close-up of one flower (a tree has tons of them)

Need a wonderful, beautiful, hardy, pest free shade tree? Think Jacaranda. They are native to South America and in the U.S. common in Florida, it is commonly seen in southern California, south Florida and countries along the Mediterranean Sea. It has become naturalized in some parts of Australia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Hawaii, and Chile. But, even if you do not live in those climatic zones where winters are no colder 40F, you can still enjoy them.

The tree is hardy, despite its subtropical preferences, which is odd, most are not. This tree will tolerate temps, as an adult tree, down to 26F. That expands the range to Northern California and into Oregon. Granted, the tolerance at 26F is limited to a few hours, but with some care, it works.

I know, I have two, about 10 ft tall and several years old in the wine country in Sonoma County. There are only a few months where the temp drops to that level occasionally, but the days always reach 50F in the winter. Some simple protection from frost is all you need. Young trees may take several years to become well-branched. At about 20 feet tall, it begins to develop a dome shaped or rounded crown that enhances its appearance and makes it into a shade tree of dappled light. The foliage is concentrated at the end of its branches. Jacaranda is evergreen in the warmest, wettest climates. It is deciduous to varying degrees in areas with colder winters or long dry periods. The blue flower is loosely formed, pyramidal shaped, up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. The tree is stunning from May to July. The flowers are fragrance free. The "flower" actually consists of hundreds of smaller 1" flowers.

Jacaranda is best used as a flowering street, landscape, or garden tree. This is a graceful tree, even without its flowers. It makes a fine shade tree providing dappled shade. They are similar to the Mimosa tree in leaf but the flowers are very different. The require no special attention for soil and are drought tolerant when mature. Young trees like water.

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