2 Jun 2015

Some Notes on the Jacaranda Tree

(Photo: Flickr - karenblixen / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Author: Jorge Ventocilla

Brother Shrub and Sister Sand,
Brother Moss and Sister Spring,
Brother River and Sister Stone,
Brother Dust and Sister People.

Arturo Corcuera
(Suggested translation of the original poem in Spanish)

I wanted to hurry in writing about this tree because we can still find some of them in full bloom, even when it is June already. This time I will talk about the Jacaranda (Jacaranda caucana) tree, from the Bignoniaceae family, a very beautiful tree that serves as ornament on both streets and parks all over the country.

This is a medium-sized tree, not as large as the corotú (Enterolobium cyclocarpum), but larger than the nance (Byrsonima crassifolia), with a straight branched trunk than can achieve a 50 cm diameter. The top of the tree is rather wide and long, with a downward tendency.  

The tree sheds its leaves as a protection against excessive transpiration during the dry season/drought. Its leaves are small and pointed. The flowers are gathered in “terminal panicles” with bell-shaped flower crowns that burst into a vibrant, vivid purple when in bloom. A few weeks after, the fruits can be seen: oblong flattened capsules that open in half, leaving the seed exposed.

The Jacaranda tree is native to the tropical regions of America (found in large numbers north of South America). Currently, it is grown in many other parts of the world as an ornamental tree. Our neighbors in Colombia call it guandalay and I have read that it is widely used for natural medicine in that country. In Costa Rica, just like in Panama, it has more of an ornamental value. In Venezuela, it is called “flor de la cruz” (Flower of the Cross).  

Trying to keep track of its journey, it was reported for the first time in Dominican Republic in 1977, according to an article I was reading when writing this text. Someone must have been really impressed by its beauty and ultimately decided to take it all the way there.