Scientific name: Jacaranda
Common name: Jacaranda
Origin: Central and S. America and the W. Indies, cultivated in India
IT is difficult to understand why such a beautiful tree as the Jacaranda is not more widely cultivated.
It is one of loveliest garden trees in India, both the flowers and leaves having a definite charm of their own. In the North-West it has been fairly freely planted as it propagates easily in the sandy soil, but elsewhere it is all too rare. It is a native of Brazil and has been introduced into many tropical and sub-tropical countries.
It is a handsome tree of medium height - 60 feet at the most - with big leaves divided into such tiny segments that the whole has the finely cut appearance of a fern. Each little leaflet is a pointed oblong and, at the end of each pinna is a leaflet slightly larger than the others.
The flowering season is from March to May and, unfortunately, does not last very long. An avenue of these trees is an unforgettable sight when, from end to end every tree is swathed in blue. In India the season is extended because one tree will start flowering when its neighbour has finished.
Fresh green stems growing from the old wood terminate in large, loose clusters of deep blue-mauve flowers, sometimes as many as ninety in one glorious spray. Each flower is a long, bent, swelling tube, rather the shape of a foxglove flower. It is about 2 inches long and divides into five unequal lobes, two up-curving and smudged with white and the other three large and straight. The fruit, which does not appear in anything like the profusion of the flowers, is a round, flat capsule about 2 inches across, bearing numerous seeds. The Pink Cassias are flowering when the Jacaranda blooms and the two colors side by side make a lovely combination.
In Columbia this tree has medicinal uses, but here it apparently is not sufficiently well established for the herbalists and village doctors to have learnt of its value.
The name Mimosifolia means having leaves like the Mimosa tree, but the tree described by Mr. Otto Degener in the Journal of the New York Botanical Gardens as Jacaranda acutefolia. He says: "The acute-leaved Jacaranda has been introduced usually under the wrong scientific name. Even the common name Jacaranda is seldom pronounced correctly. It comes from Brazil, where the literates speak largely Portuguese and in that language the letter "j" is pronounced like the "z" in "azure," and in this word the last vowel is accented."