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Photo Story: The annual invasion of the jacaranda blooms turns Gauteng purple

2015-10-29 10:37

When in full bloom, their petals paint the streets purple and their pleasant and rich aroma hangs in the air.

It’s mid spring and the jacaranda trees, most common on the suburban streets of Pretoria and Johannesburg, are in full bloom. Students can attest to their ‘lucky charms’. A saying goes that if you’re a student and haven’t begun to study before the jacaranda trees bloom, you’re going to fail. But if you haven’t hit the books yet, don’t worry, there’s another myth – you’ll pass if a jacaranda flower falls on your head.

There are an estimated 70 000 jacaranda trees in SA, 50 000 of them on the streets of Pretoria alone, turning the city purple when they flower in October and November. First imported to Pretoria in 1880 from Argentina, the jacarandas, which are indigenous to South and Central America, were initially planted along city avenues and then found their way into gardens.

In his famous memoir Long Walk To Freedom, Nelson Mandela wrote about how they offered a brief escape at lunchtime during the Treason Trial. ‘Those moments under the shade of the jacaranda trees on the vicarage lawn were the most pleasant of the trial.’ The trees, which consume a lot of water, have been classified as an invasive alien species in both SA and Australia.

Here, it means we may keep those that already exist, but we’re not allowed to plant any more of them. So enjoy them while you can:

A jacaranda tree shows off in Forest Town, Johannesburg.

On Wantage Road in Rosebank, nothern Johannesburg, jacaranda trees lining the sides of the street branch out to embrace each other. 

A jacaranda tree is partially reflected in a Rosebank puddle.

A walkway at Wits University is covered in jacaranda blossoms. 

An aerial view of the of the jacaranda tree invasion in Rosebank.

The purple petals of the jacaranda make a beautiful carpet.

For Sam Rakomane the jacaranda tree can be frustrating as they mean extra sweeping.  

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June 23 2019