It’s a small visual pleasure.

Every year around the end of Spring the Jacaranda is in bloom in Southern California. In my home city of Riverside, there are many trees – many more than you would expect to find on the edge of a desert – and for a few weeks the purple Jacaranda flowers provide a visual contrast with the lush greens of the tree-rich city.

Having been a resident for nearly four decades, I took my enjoyment of the purple blooming a bit for granted this year until a couple weeks ago when my daughter Megan mentioned that there are no Jacaranda trees in Santa Cruz. Megan was in Riverside for the weekend for her 10th year high school reunion. She said that she missed the trees and expected to see them in bloom at the end of spring. I guessed that the climate is too cold for Jacaranda to grow well in Northern California. But I didn’t really know, so I did some quick research.

Jacaranda is subtropical and grown as ornamental trees and bushes in the warm parts of the world. It is native to Central and South America and the Caribbean. Though it blooms somewhat later in Riverside, displaying its purple-blue flowers in late May and early June, in many parts of the world it is considered a sign of the arrival of spring.

Photographs in this post are Copyright 2009 by RRAlexander.