The Jacaranda is a popular tree for planting in public spaces.
The Jacaranda is a popular tree for planting in public spaces.

The Jacaranda tree, known for its ethereal blue flowers, thrives in tropical climates. Its name is a Portuguese word that means having a hard core or hard branch. In America the tree is found in warmer parts of the country, including Southern California, Florida, and much of the Southwest.

Origins

The Jacaranda is native to South America, specifically Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, as well as Mexico and Central America. The flowering tree also has been introduced to Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and parts of the United States. Particularly in Australia and America, the Jacaranda is a popular choice for public spaces; the trees are often found lining streets or adorning parks.

Amazonian Myth

According to an Amazon legend, a beautiful bird named Mitu landed atop a Jacarnda tree bringing with him a lovely woman. The woman, who was actually a priestess of the moon, descended from the tree and lived among the villagers, sharing with them her knowledge and ethics. Having fulfilled her mission, she returned back to the tree adorned in Jacaranda blooms and ascended to the heavens where she united with her soul mate, the son of the sun.

Lore for Students

Because the Jacaranda tree is associated with the Amazonian moon goddess who is known for her wisdom, the trees are often found planted on university campuses. In Australia, in particular, there are academic superstitions that have grown up around the tree. For example, a student is considered unlikely to do well on final exams if he hasn’t started studying for them by the time the Jacaranda trees are in bloom. But there are conflicting meanings for what it means when a Jacaranda bloom falls on a student’s head. One says it's good luck; another says it's bad luck unless the bloom is caught in the right hand.

Luck

Although they don’t have as storied a history, Jacaranda trees have a bit of legend in the United States as well. If a Jacaranda bloom falls on your head, it’s considered good luck. The blossoms of the Jacaranda also are associated with rebirth and the magic of spring.