While those of us in the northern hemisphere may be enjoying brilliant fall foliage and indulging in all things pumpkin this fall, the other half of the world is in the thick of spring. We've been seeing spectacular photos of spring-bloomers popping up on social media, and among the most stunning we've seen so far are scenes of jacaranda-lined streets in places like Australia, South Africa, and Brazil. Much as we'd love to jump on a plane right now to see these amazing displays in person, indulging in these images is the next best thing.
There are at least 49 known varieties of jacaranda trees, but the one most likely to fill your Instagram feed—Jacaranda mimosifolia—produces a vibrant show of purple flowers in late spring. It's native to northwestern Argentina and Bolivia, but can be found in tropical and subtropic regions around the world. In the U.S., they mainly grow in parts of Hawaii, California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona. There, they start blooming in late May, while the trees in the southern hemisphere are in prime blooming season in October and November.
Besides their beautiful blooms, jacarandas feature delicate, fern-like foliage that lends a soft texture to gardens and city streets. Those leaves will turn a golden yellow and fall off in autumn (and if you happen to be in one of the southern U.S. states with jacarandas, you should see them turning yellow now). These trees can reach up to 50 feet tall, and look especially impressive when planted along both sides of a path or street. Their wide-spreading branches often will form a gorgeous tunnel of purple flowers that literally stops people in their tracks.
A single jacaranda tree in full bloom is breathtaking all on its own, but part of the awe that comes from the annual jacaranda bloom in places like Australia and South Africa is the sheer number of blooming trees. Pretoria, South Africa, is even known as Jacaranda City due to the volume of jacaranda trees it has, and cities like Johannesburg in South Africa and Sydney and Brisbane in Australia are also popular destinations for jacaranda sightseers.
In some parts of South Africa and Australia, the trees are considered invasive for crowding out some native species, but many residents still love their iconic blooms. Some scientists also argue that with mindful planting and maintenance, their impact in nonnative areas can be minimal. So far in the U.S., they are categorized as invasive in Hawaii, but don't appear to be causing similar issues in any other states.
These photos may inspire you to grow your own jacaranda, but keep in mind that they are only hardy in Zones 10 and 11. If you live in one of these Zones, plant your tree in sandy soil and full sun. They grow quickly, but if you start one from seed, it could take 7-14 years before it blooms. If you plant a sapling, it could take 2-3 years before you see its first flowers. Because they are so fast-growing, they don't make good choices for containers, though some people grow jacarandas as bonsai for their unique leaves. These bonsai may flower a little if grown outside, but they likely won’t flower if kept indoors.
Pretty as jacarandas are, they can require a bit of work to maintain. Their branches often need pruning to keep the tree healthy and looking its best. Also, they drop their flowers after blooming, which can create a sticky, slippery mess as they decompose. Either make sure to plant them in a spot where this won't cause a problem, or plan to do some clean-up once the flowers fall.
Whether you choose to grow your own or simply admire photos of jacarandas, they're a sight worth seeing. Like the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., you might even want to plan a trip to experience them in their full glory. For now, we'll let the gorgeous images of jacarandas in full bloom inspire our daydreams of spring.