Monday, May 15, 2017

Jacaranda Blossoms Are LA's Surest Sign of Spring

People who live in cooler climates imagine that warm, sunny LA has no definable seasons, and if you are going strictly by the lack of any extremes in temperature, that may be understandable.  But smaller signs are unmistakable to us natives, and none so heart-swelling and glorious as the weeks in April and May when many streets turn into tunnels of lavender-blue blossoms. Our 150,000 jacarandas are heralds of springtime that we all look forward to.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:

Link to Article:
The Story Behind LA's Beautiful, Ephemeral Jacaranda

Excerpt: "So, how exactly did the jacarandas get here? Accounts of their original point of entry differ. As McDonough told me, 'when exactly they came, nobody really knows.'

He posits that it’s possible they first arrived in California during the Gold Rush. Most of the schooner ships making their way west stopped in Buenos Aires, where they would have witnessed the glory of a jacaranda tree in bloom. McDonough explains that those early arrivals may have 'brought seeds or clippings' with them to California. It’s also possible that freight tycoon Phineas Banning had the trees shipped in to his Wilmington estate from the Amazon in the late 1860s.

Still, in 1868, Reverend James C. Fletcher, a scholar of Brazil, would write that their lilac blossoms were rarely seen north of the equator except in 'small specimen-pieces.'

All that would change in the new century. 'The flowering jacaranda, which in June showers its purple blossoms on the passerby, has come as an ambassador from the Amazon to proclaim the magnificence of that court,' Lannie Haynes Martin wrote of Southern California in 1912.

By 1916, naturalist Charles Francis Sanders would write that driving Foothill Boulevard (the precursor of the 210 freeway) was 'nothing short of entrancing' when 'the jacaranda trees are a cloud of blue,' and by 1920, the L.A. Times would call the trees, now 'not uncommon,' the 'finest foliage of any used for street planting.'

And for their profusion, we have but one person to thank, a pioneering woman who was arguably the Johnny Appleseed of not just jacarandas, but a host of other iconic Southern California flora. Her name was Kate Sessions and she spent more than 50 years importing seeds and plants into Southern California. She is credited with introducing and popularizing more than 143 species in Southern California, including our beloved bougainvillea, birds of paradise, yellow oleander, star jasmine, and, of course, jacaranda trees..."

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