Jacaranda — The lavish lilac : The Tribune India

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Nature walk: Getting to know trees

Jacaranda — The lavish lilac

Jacaranda — The lavish lilac

Jacaranda is a genus of about 50 species of flowering shrubs and trees in the family Bignoniaceae. Jacaranda trees can grow up to 10 metres (32 ft) in height, which makes them an excellent shade or street trees. iStock

Amarjeet Singh Batth

If you are living in Chandigarh or have visited the city during spring, then you must have seen trees with soft purple blooms lining the roads. These are eyecatching and add a brilliance to the well-laid roads in the city.

The tree is very common in other cities too. If you are wondering which tree it is, then let’s introduce you to Jacaranda, the lavendar charm.

Jacaranda mimosifolia, a beauty with fragrance, belongs to Bignoniaceae family and is locally called as Jacaranda or Neeli Gulmohar. Although native to Central and South America, Jacaranda has been planted widely in Asia and Australia.

It is a medium sized sub-tropical, deciduous tree planted for its finely cut foliage and showy long-lasting, tubular shaped, pale indigo flowers with mauve-blue flowers which bloom in the months of April-May.

The city of Pretoria in South Africa, because of its mass plantation is known as ‘The Jakranda City’, while ‘Grafton’ in New South Wales, Australia, celebrates a Jacaranda festival every year in the month of October. This festival celebrates the town’s hundreds of lilac-blossomed trees with art exhibitions, live music, markets and parades.

The tree grows to a height of up to 20 meters (66 ft). The bark is thin, smooth and grey-brown, smooth when young but as it grows and matures it becomes finely scaly.

The foliage is finely cut and fern like. The leaves are compound and bipinnate. The blue bell-shaped flowers are arranged in panicles on the leafless branches. Calyx 5, toothed. Corolla tube curved with a wider throat, petals 5. Stamens four, didynamous. Ovary bicarpellary,syncarpous.

The fruit is a capsule, compressed at right angles to the septum with numerous flat winged seed. Amarjeet Singh Batth

The wood of this tree is pale grey to whitish, straight-grained, relatively soft and knot-free. It is used for making agricultural implements. In South Africa it is poetically known as ‘Jakarandastad’ and the name is frequently used in Afrikaans songs.

If a jacaranda flower drops on your head then it means good fortune.
The tree represents wisdom, rebirth, wealth and good luck.

What’s in a name
The name jacaranda comes from a South American language Guarani and it means ‘fragrant’.

Things to remember while planting

  • Where to plant: Jacaranda, is planted along road sides as avenue tree and in clusters in the gardens. It needs a sunny spot with full sunlight and grows almost in all types of well drained soils. Jacaranda branches are arched, forming a canopy which makes them a good shade tree. These form dense canopy which allows diffuse light enter. As the leaves create a lot of litter when they drop which makes it a poor choice near water bodies and pools side tree. It is also not a good choice for planting near driveways, patios or outdoor recreation areas. Planting distance for an avenue is 30-30 feet plant to plant depending upon the planting arrangement.
  • When to plant: Feb-March and July-August are the best times for new plantation. Make a pit of 3’x3’ feet and two feet deep and expose it for about one week. Mix well rotten farm yard manure in equal parts and mix it well so that no lumps exits and then fill it with the mixture and top up with the water. After few days when the soil settles place the sapling and tighten the soil and irrigate it immediately.
  • Care and upkeep: It is prone to Frost damage so avoid in areas prone to it. The tree is drought tolerant but does need regular irrigation during peak summers. A manure application twice a year in July and Dec in the initial years is beneficial. Regular pruning is to be done to form one central leader (main trunk) for strength, stability and maintain the its shape. Removal of dead and broken wood is essential and round the year operation. Avoid nitrogen based fertilizers when grass lawn is under grown.

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