By Vardah Littman
Starting around Iyar time, some totally green-leafed trees suddenly start producing great bunches of bell-like lavender flowers. These are Jacaranda trees, referred to in Hebrew as Sigalit. Originating in
Jacarandas were introduced into
over 50 years ago and are now found in cities all over the Land. In
neighborhoods lucky enough to have jacarandas as street trees, the two to three
month of bloom creates an exquisite purple haze across the horizon. Israel
To give you an idea of the beauty of the Jackaranda in one phrase, I would describe it as “breath-taking.” Seeing this splendid tree in full bloom makes you appreciate its loveliness. It has a slender trunk, delicate leaves, and literally thousands of bell-shaped mauve and lilac flowers blossoms hanging from sculptured branches that reach for the sky.
There are about 50 different species of jacarandas. The Blue Jacaranda that we know (Jacaranda Mimosifolia) is the most widespread of those species This handsome Jacaranda is about 5 to
30 meters in height with
slender and slightly wavy zigzag light reddish-brown branches. They can
be pruned easily to make a canopy that provides just the right amount of
dappled shade. The thin, grey-brown bark is smooth when the sapling is young. As
the tree develops, fine scales cover it. The feathery leaves resemble ferns which
accounts for the fact that many people call it “Fern Tree.”
In the spring and early summer the Jacaranda produces clusters of lilac and purple trumpet-shaped flowers that have a hint of fragrance and can be up to five cm long. The flowers produce oval flattened and woody seed pods measuring about 2 inches across. They harden and split, popping open to release tiny, winged seeds. Both seed pods and the countless flute-like flowers of the Jacaranda tend to fall and lay littered on the ground. Being somewhat sticky, the flowers attach themselves to the bottom of shoes and get carried around.
Sometimes, another minor round of flowering occurs in Chesvan or Kislev, In the winter the leaves turn yellow and brown, and the tree hangs onto those leaves throughout the winter, waiting until spring to let go.
The Jacaranda enjoys wel- drained soil, sunny locations, and ample watering. Although it can tolerate drought, it prefers tropical and sub-tropical climates. Yet we see it grows well in
even thought the
winters are cold as it can survive brief spells of frost and freezing
temperatures (-7° C/ 20° F). Over
time, the tree becomes even more cold resistant. Jerusalem
With its profuse flowers and sheltering branches, Jacaranda can be grown as street trees, or in landscapes and lawns. Grown in large pots, it can be an ornamental plant for container gardening. It can also be turned into a nicely molded bonsai tree.
Although the Jacaranda tree is clearly loved and valued for its beauty, the tree also has other important and interesting uses. The straight-grained, relatively soft, and knot-free wood has a pleasant scent. It dries without difficulty and is often used in its green or wet state for woodturning (a form of woodworking that is used to create wooden objects on a lath) and bowl carving. It is easy to work and finish for carpentry, and in
Argentina and Brazil it's known as green ebony
and used to build furniture.
Because of the handsome finish and beautiful ingrained streaks that polished Jacaranda timber produces, it is used in crafting fine pianos in
Egypt. In Brazil Jacaranda wood is
used in constructing the body of acoustic guitars. The Chinese use the leaves
to make a distinctive purple dye. The water extracts of Jacaranda has medicinal
value and is antimicrobial. All parts of the tree, if ingested, are said to
have a poisonous effect.
Jacaranda can be propagated from grafting, cuttings, or seeds. Plants grown from seeds may take a long time to bloom. As the Jacaranda is very resistant to pests and diseases, there are no pests of note that attack this tree.
Amazing to note that at the exact same time the Jacaranda flowers are blooming high up on their tree perch, you can find the exact same colors, low on the ground in the form of the lavender agapanthus (Lily of the Nile). These bold round balls of bell-like flowers often called African lilies, originate in
Their long pointed South Africa 60 cm ( 24 in) strap-like leaves are topped with globes of intensely bluish colored
flowers on long dark green stems which are 30-40cm high. They are surprisingly low
maintenance and will survive the winter outdoors.
There are many varieties of agapanthus. The classic agapanthus has azure blue flowers with a prominent darker stripe in the middle. It’s name comes from the Greek agape (meaning” love”) and anthos (meaning “flower). Agapanthus means “flower of love,” and their color, purple is what was considered in ancient times the color of kings. At this time of year, for only a few weeks, agapanthus can be bought in flower stores. I always try to buy them "L’Koved Shabbos Kodesh" to show my love of the Holy Shabbos Malka.