Jacaranda trees, with their wispy, fern-like foliage and showy clusters of lavender-blue flowers, are highly visible in the Southern California landscape during the late spring and the summer.
Usually, jacarandas are in bloom from May through July, but some blossom as late as September. This year, the unseasonably warm, dry weather has caused many of the trees to shed their flowers and leaves already.
Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) was imported from its native Brazil. A tree whose branches form an open, irregular, oval shape 15 to 30 feet wide, it reaches heights of 25 to 40 feet. The foliage is characterized by compound leaves of many leaflets, which provide a fern-like appearance.
The tree's tubular flowers are about two inches long and grow in clusters six to eight inches long. A variety of jacaranda with white blossoms that grow more sparsely than the purple ones sometimes can be seen. Both varieties have roundish, flat seed capsules, considered quite decorative when used in flower arrangements.
Jacaranda trees have fragrant, oatmeal-colored wood that, although not generally sold commercially, is sometimes used for interior construction of homes and other buildings. The trees serve as host for the Indian lac insect, which produces resinous substances used in making shellac.
The jacaranda is one of about 50 species belonging to the bignonia family, native to tropical America.