Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Jacaranda - Who knows where it came from?

Jacaranda - Where did it come from?

I was asked where the Jacaranda and the Poinciana came from by a friend - he said Madagascar? I wasn't sure so hence this little article on the Blue Haze Tree or "Get ready it's exam time tree"!
Below is a photo of the particular Jacaranda we were discussing:
A broken limb off a Jacaranda nearly 20 meters long
 Now to the history of it's origin - and this is where it gets interesting as Stirling Macoboy (who my friend uses a gospel) didn't read his copy that day -
"the Jacaranda is found naturally in the high and dry deserts of Brazil."
But as investigations take us further - the fact that it has been introduced all over the world as Baron von Ludwig  did in Cape Town about 1829. Time of arrival in Australia was considered around 1900 - but it is thought to be earlier than this. It was almost certainly the first jacaranda to be grown in Australia. Walter Hill, the Gardens' Superintendent, planted it in 1864. It remained in the Gardens until 1979, when it was blown over during a cyclone ― part of the trunk is now located at the offices of the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. Under the jacaranda (see below) 1903 has been one of the best loved works in the Queensland Art Gallery since it entered the Collection in 1903. Godfrey Rivers completed the painting 13 years after he arrived in Australia from the United Kingdom. The work depicts Rivers and Miss Selina Bell, who later became his wife, taking tea under the shade of a jacaranda tree in full bloom. The tree was a landmark in Brisbane's Botanic Gardens, which adjoined the grounds of the Brisbane Technical College where Rivers taught from 1891 to 1915. It's worth a visit to the Mt Cootha Botanical Gardens to see this specimen - and the painting below is on display at Queensland Art Gallery.

R. Godfrey Rivers | England/Australia 1859-1925 | Under the jacaranda 1903 | Oil on canvas | 143.4 x 107.2cm | Purchased 1903 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

The main street of the town of Red Cliffs, Victoria, Australia (part of the Calder Highway) was named Jacaranda Street in the original town plans of the early 1920s and Jacaranda trees have since been planted to line this street. So they had to have been in Australia for Town Planners to have designated street names after them! Ipswich, Grafton and Brisbane have also had a long history of Jacarandas. In South Africa their love extends to students that start studying hard when the Jacaranda starts flowering as they do every year that coincide with end of year exams! South Africa's love of Jacaranda's is similar to our own but with legend - they have this little legend which has not yet been proven:
University of Pretoria and legend has it that if a flower from the Jacaranda tree drops on your head, you will pass all your exams.
Here's a photo of Jacarandas in Zimbabwe - South Africa.
Jacaranda in flower in Harare, Zimbabwe - could be Grafton Australia.
There are so many stories regarding the Jacaranda - and its contribution to the gardens of Australia has been invaluable!  Another article will describe the botanical information of beautiful tree from Brazil, Peru, Argentina or Bolivia (Oh - and I put in Madagascar for my friend)?

Use the poll on the right to vote where you think it originated from? A clue is in the name Jacaranda mimosifolia!  Poll Open Now


  1. How did they get the name Jacaranda? Greek etc

  2. Hey Roofer!

    Good question - not greek this time - it's origins are thought to have been Portuguese as the timber is refered to by the Tupi people as "yacarandá"! So fairly easy to see the name Jacaranda one the english grabbed it!

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  4. My recollection from public school in Argentina is that sometime around 1900 Argentina and Australia did an exchange: Argentine Jacarandás were sent to Australia in exchange for Eucalyptus trees which were needed as windbreaks for the estancias in the Pampas & Patagonia.

  5. We were also taught that the etymology of Jacarandá is from the Guaraní, the language of an Amerindian people (Guaraní) from Paraguay, Uruguay, northern Argentina, and southern Brazil, Guaraní is from the same family of languages as Tupí, the language of origin mentioned above.

  6. Photo says in Zimbabwe' South Africa. Should read southern africa. South Africa is a country as is Zimbabwe. Nice article. Thanks