Once again heralding the arrival of summer, Jacaranda trees have put on their annual magnificent display of colour, not only in our own local streets, gardens and parks, but all along much of Australia’s eastern seaboard and neighbouring inland areas.
There are several varieties of this hardy tree, originating from Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina, most likely imported by captains of sailing ships arriving in Brisbane and Sydney with seeds to trade for some extra cash. In 1864 the superintendent of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Walter Hill, planted seeds of the Argentinian lavender-blue Jacaranda Mimosifolia which he’d purchased from such a seafarer. They became the first to be successfully grown in Australia, thus establishing one of our most iconic arborial features. By 1870 Hill was able to report to the Queensland Legislative Council that he was having some success growing them “on either side of the gravel path leading from the George St Entrance to the interacting gravel walk.”
With displays of jacaranda over the past 150 years providing a reliable and spectacular fanfare to summer, Jacaranda Festivals have become popular community events, notably in Grafton NSW which has become the longest-running floral festival in Australia, and, nearer to us, in the Brisbane suburb of Goodna, which this year opens on October 31.
Not surprisingly, there are a few urban myths which have become associated with the jacaranda in Australia.
For instance, the belief that students who hadn’t started studying by the time the trees come into bloom would fail their exams. Or that the same result would occur if a jacaranda flower fell on their head (but catching a flower in the right hand would reverse that outcome). Yeah, right.
Then there’s the old Furphy that connected Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital with a claim that jacaranda seedlings were given to new mothers, who were encouraged to plant them and watch them grow in pace with their child, resulting in the glorious seasonal displays on the North Shore. The hospital never gave out seeds to new mothers. Mother Nature took care of the display.
But what, unfortunately, is not a myth is the fact that our much-loved and admired J. Mimosifolia is a declared weed in Queensland and NSW, and ‘blacklisted’ by Brisbane City Council! See https://weeds.brisbane.qld.gov.au/weeds/jacaranda.
Fortunately, that doesn’t detract even slightly from our admiration of this colourful tree. Enjoy!