Jacarandas: Valencia’s Purple Haze

Jimi Hendrix would have enjoyed Valencia at this time of year, for in May the jacarandas bloom.

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There are 49 species of the Jacaranda tree, which is native to tropical and subtropical regions of South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, and its blooming is an evident sign of the arrival of spring in many parts of the world, such as Mexico and Zimbabwe, although in Valencia, May tends to be the month of their splendour, when suddenly the streets and countryside are filled with the exotic flowers that last all too briefly.

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Pretoria in South Africa is popularly known as ‘The Jacaranda City’ because of the great number of jacaranda trees planted in parks, streets and gardens, making the city look like a purple, blue haze when seen from the surrounding hills. There, students believe that if the jacaranda petals, which generally bloom at the same time as the year-end exams, fall on your head, then you will pass all your exams, .

At the University of Queensland in Australia students believe exactly the opposite. There are also many jacarandas on campus and the local superstition is not to start studying for exams until the jacarandas have moulted. Any excuse is a good excuse.

At Grafton, also in Australia, there is a jacaranda festival every October with a street parade, local public holiday and a series of events with street theatre and stalls. They even choose a Jacaranda Queen and Princess.

In California, jacarandas bloom twice a year, although autumn is less spectacular than spring.

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The word ‘jacaranda’ actually comes from the Tupi language of Brazil.

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