It’s that time of the year again when parts of South Africa light up under a purple blanket of flowering Jacaranda trees. South Africans love Jacarandas. So much that we’ve named a number of schools and one of Gauteng’s biggest radio stations, Jacaranda FM, after this beautiful tree. In fact our capital city, Pretoria, is colloquially known as ”The Jacaranda City”. Every year between September and November the Jacaranda Mimosifolia, as it is scientifically known, adorns South Africa and sets social media on fire, with South Africans posting their versions of the purple phenomenon. Here are a few facts about our beloved Jacarandas.
They are not indigenous to South Africa
Unlike the Protea, the Jacaranda tree is not indigenous to South Africa. It is, in fact, indigenous to South America, but has been in South Africa as early as the 1800s.
What does Jacaranda mean?
Hint: It’s not Afrikaans
The name Jacaranda means ”fragrant” in Guarani, a language comes from the Tupi Guarani family of languages from South America.
Other African countries have Jacarandas
South Africa is not the only African country that has Jacaranda trees. In fact they are incredibly popular in Nairobi, Kenya where the purple blanket has given rise to the #jacarandapropaganda hashtag on Instagram. Kenyans, like South Africans, cannot stop taking photos of this spring beauty! Zambia and Zimbabwe are also part of the Jacaranda frenzy.
It’s illegal to plant Jacarandas, in South Africa.
As beautiful as the Jacaranda tree is, it is also quite invasive in South Africa because it is not indigenous to the country and therefore competes with and eventually replaces indigenous species. The Cape Chestnut and Pom Pom trees are excellent alternatives to the Jacaranda.
They have health benefits
Although largely ornamental, the Jacarandas have some healing abilities and have been used to treat bacterial infections, varicose veins and skin infections, amongst other ailments.
Featured image from IG: @traveltrotters_za