While we're admiring colorful autumn leaves, these pretty purple flowers are blooming in the southern hemisphere.

By Jennifer Aldrich
Updated October 27, 2020
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Depending on where you live in the northern hemisphere, if you look out your window right now, you're probably looking at gorgeous fall foliage or maybe even some snow. But in the southern hemisphere, the view is quite a bit different. Right now, in the southern hemisphere, they're in the middle of spring. And in some parts of the region, including Australia, South Africa, and Brazil, they have an exceptional sight outside. Currently, jacaranda trees are blooming and lining the streets with stunning purple flowers. Although we can't visit the region right now, checking out these photos is the next best thing.

blooming Jacaranda Trees
Credit: Courtesy of m_puseletso/Instgram

There are at least 49 known varieties of jacaranda trees, but the one most likely to fill your Instagram feed is Jacaranda mimosifolia. It produces a vibrant show of purple flowers in late spring. It's native to northwestern Argentina and Bolivia but can be found in tropical and subtropic regions worldwide. In the U.S., they mainly grow in parts of Hawaii, California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona. They start blooming in late May, while the trees in the southern hemisphere are in prime blooming season in October and November.

Besides their beautiful blooms, jacarandas feature delicate, fern-like foliage that lends a soft texture to gardens and city streets. Those leaves will turn a golden yellow and fall off in autumn (and if you happen to be in one of the southern U.S. states with jacarandas, you should see them turning yellow now). These trees can reach up to 50 feet tall and look especially impressive when planted along both sides of a path or street. Their wide-spreading branches often will form a gorgeous tunnel of purple flowers that stops people in their tracks.

A single jacaranda tree in full bloom is breathtaking all on its own, but part of the awe that comes from the annual jacaranda bloom in places like Australia and South Africa is the sheer number of blooming trees. Pretoria, South Africa, is even known as Jacaranda City due to the volume of jacaranda trees it has. Cities like Johannesburg in South Africa and Sydney and Brisbane in Australia are also popular destinations for jacaranda sightseers.

In some parts of South Africa and Australia, the trees are considered invasive for crowding out some native species, but many residents still love their iconic blooms. Some scientists also argue that their impact in non-native areas can be minimal with mindful planting and maintenance. So far, in the U.S., they are categorized as invasive in Hawaii but don't appear to be causing similar issues in any other state.

These photos may inspire you to grow your jacaranda, but keep in mind that they are only hardy in Zones 10 and 11. If you live in one of these Zones, plant your tree in sandy soil and full sun. They grow quickly, but it could take 7-14 years before it blooms if you start one from seed. If you plant a sapling, it could take 2-3 years before you see its first flowers. Because they are so fast-growing, they don't make good choices for containers, though some people grow jacarandas as bonsai for their unique leaves. These bonsai may flower a little if grown outside, but they likely won’t flower if kept indoors.

Pretty as jacarandas are, they can require a bit of work to maintain. Their branches often need pruning to keep the tree healthy and looking its best. Also, they drop their flowers after blooming, which can create a sticky, slippery mess as they decompose. Either make sure to plant them in a spot where this won't cause a problem, or plan to do some clean-up once the flowers fall.

Whether you choose to grow your own or simply admire photos of jacarandas, they're a sight worth seeing. Like the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., you might even want to plan a trip to experience them in their full glory one day. For now, let the gorgeous images of jacarandas in full bloom inspire your daydreams of spring.

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