Purple Reign

In many areas of the world, changing foliage colors signal seasonal transitions. Even if we don’t experience it where we live, we’ve all seen pictures of maples, oaks, and dogwoods showing off their gorgeous autumn leaves. Although I’m happy enough not to have to deal with ice and snow, I do envy those who get to enjoy the glorious reds, oranges, and yellows that signal the coming of winter.

Here in Southern California, our autumn foliage doesn’t look that different from our summer or winter foliage, but we do get a magical burst of color this time of year. As spring transitions into early summer, the purple blossoms of the jacaranda tree begins to appear on the skyline and light up our streets. At first, just a few bell-shaped flowers dot the bare branches but, seemingly overnight, the tree’s canopy is covered in a vibrant violet-blue cloud.

Although the jacaranda is our city’s official urban tree, it is not native to our area.  Originally from South America, they are said to have been introduced here in the early 20th century by the locally renowned horticulturist, Kate Sessions.  Fortunately for us, our climate proved ideal for the jacaranda and it has flourished here ever since.

Jacarandas can be found all over San Diego, including downtown, La Jolla, and in Balboa Park. We are lucky to have several beautiful jacarandas on our block and, not too far away, a whole neighborhood is lined with the trees. I don’t know the history behind the mass planting, but it appears that every house on the street has at least one of the trees in its yard.

As spring warms into summer, the tree’s ephemeral blossoms start to fall, creating a lavender carpet on the lawns and sidewalks below. Pretty soon, green fern-like leaves begin to appear on the branches, and the once vibrant tree starts to blend into its surroundings again. If we are lucky, we may get a smaller bloom in the fall but, most likely, we will have to wait until the following spring, when the magic of the jacaranda tree reigns again.

Author: Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

137 thoughts on “Purple Reign”

  1. Gorgeous images. I especially adore the picture of the sprawling urban landscape framed in Jacaranda trees. Believe it or not, my first Jacaranda encounter was in Australia. I don’t recall ever seeing them beforehand (my travels in San Diego did not coincide with their bloom).

    As far as the seasons go, I grew up in the midwest with my best childhood friend, Mary. We always used to say we wanted to live in places with the four seasons done right. When she later moved to California, she told me, ‘Dorny, we were so wrong.’ Now that I’ve taken an extended sail through more tropical climates, I get what she meant, although I wouldn’t mind the occasional snow and do miss late autumn days.

    1. I have lived in a no-snow area all my life so I guess I don’t miss not having four distinct seasons. Our seasons are much more subtle… although there is nothing subtle when spring bursts into our consciousness with the glorious purple blooms of the jacaranda trees. I hope all is well with you and that the Captain is mending nicely.

  2. Southern California has some similarities with my region in Australia, Janis. The Jacarandas here bloom in November – exam time for the students! We used to have one outside our old house and I just love the carpet of purple underneath when the blossoms fall. Fantastic in a street planting. They were probably introduced here around the same time – they do love the sub tropical climate.

      1. I am impressed that you have kangaroo paws! I used to grow many grevilleas in my former garden. Love them so much! The birds do too! You find more feijoas in NZ, I think.

  3. I’ve never seen a jacaranda tree in bloom. They look so beautiful. I love colourful blossoms, something we did not have in the northern parts of BC where I spent more than half of my life. Vancouver Island, though, has lots of springtime blooms.


  4. Those trees are drop dead gorgeous when they flower out like that and I bet the pictures aren’t half as amazing as they are in real life!

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