If the road takes you to sunny Greece you will be welcomed with fields of Oleanders. In December, Mauritius becomes an orange oasis of plant species called Flamboyant Trees. But when it’s September and you decide to go to the South African Republic, you will experience a purple catharsis with Jacarandas tree.
A tropical beauty, Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosa folia), who loves exotic climate and sun origins from South America, from countries like Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay. In time, other sunny and warm countries like California and Florida got hold of her, but her expansion didn’t stop there. Her flower beautifies the countries of the Mediterranean, we can see her in Australia, Hawaii, Chile and so on. Among all the cities she blesses with her presence, there is one that’s extremely proud of her breathtaking beauty and that’s Pretoria, the seat of the executive branch of the South African government.
We don’t have proper information on how the Jacaranda tree got in the city and overflowed its parks and streets. It is assumed that the tree has been brought from Argentina in 1880, but other sources say that it arrived from Brazil 8 years after. One thing is certain, and that’s the fact that there are so many Jacarandas in Pretoria, the city is popularly known as- Jacaranda City.
What is the beauty of this flower that dazzles writers, poets and is a constant inspiration to painters? The beauty is in her color, scent and the purple choreography this tree crates. In its blooming period, the streets seem as if they were coated with a purple paint. The trees are usually on both sides of the street so it all looks like it’s been covered with a purple canopy. This breathtaking period is often a reminder of the beginning of Spring in the Southern hemisphere and it lasts ’till the end of November. It is said that the estimated number of Jacaranda trees in Pretoria comes between 40 000 and 70 000, thus the government has forbidden further planting and regeneration of Jacaranda.
Due to the outspread of the tree in this purple town, many people are amazed when they acknowledge the fact that Jacaranda is not an indigenous plant species from South Africa. In old Egypt, pianos were made from the slender Jacaranda wood. This purple flower, although it also has a white version, often extends beyond the human eye. The view of the city is spectacular especially if you can observe it from a nearby hill, which is often perceived as paradise of violet color pallets to various artists inspired by this landscape. Jacaranda is not just an inspiration on a canvas, she is woven through poetry and prose of this land. There is a student myth or tradition about her as well. She is also known as an Exam tree, because she blooms during the exam week and it is said if this lavender colour flower fell on the students head they would successfully pass the exam. Therefore, the anxiety of the students during exam week is called Purple panic.
There are also people who don’t like the blooming and the luxuriant treetop of this tropical beauty which became part of the Pretorian culture, because of the mess she leaves behind.
But in fact, the beauty is even when the nearby cars get a layer of this purple paint that gently spreads during a drive. Another wonderful charm is when the whole city savors of this unusual tree, whose scent awakens nostalgia for all who were born here.
Spring, Pretoria, Jacaranda; somehow, it all turns into a purple fairy-tale.