Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

As we weather the storms, our jacarandas bloom purple again

The blooms of a jacaranda tree dangle in the sunshine of a hot spring day with the city of Tampa in the background.


The blooms of a jacaranda tree dangle in the sunshine of a hot spring day with the city of Tampa in the background.

A slick "the size of Rhode Island," the CNN talking heads kept saying — though Stephen Colbert, after leading his audience in a rousing round of post-spill "Drill, baby, drill!" contended this was actually a good thing, Rhode Island being a really small state and all.


The news from outside has not been good. We watch with mounting dread as workers try to stanch the flow of oil in our gulf waters, waiting to see how much damage may be done to our marine life, our sea grasses, our beaches, our tourist trade. Meanwhile, politicians pontificate on whether the future means drill or no drill, which is a little like asking if you would like another squirt of lighter fluid on the fire as your house burns down.

But here is something, a small something, a piece of good news from outside.

At least, and at last, our jacarandas are blooming, demanding to be seen.

Out of nowhere, the "friendly exotic" trees planted across the neighborhoods of St. Petersburg decades ago are bursting with spring flowers, all in that electric purple that puts a plumbago bush to shame.

Jacarandas are spreading their carpets of lavender flowers across the driveways of South Tampa and points north, east and west, and like most years, taking me by surprise.

Except for the years they don't, those drought years when trees conserve energy and wait for better times, giving us no showy show, no purple riot.

This year, Alan Mayberry was holding his breath.

He is one of my favorite people to talk to about trees, being city arborist for Dunedin and an unabashed fan of them. Our unusual cold snaps this winter had him holding out hope for the jacaranda.

He remembers all too well that harsh winter of '83, when the big jacaranda in his yard froze.

"Graveyard dead, right to the ground," he says. "Broke my heart," and how can you not appreciate a man whose heart can be broken by a beautiful tree?

Jacarandas, as it turns out, can be a litmus test for freeze damage. If they make out well, other trees tend to, too.

Our wet weather, all those good rains, may have been what saved us.

The trees — not just the jacarandas, either — are about a month late this year, Mayberry says. But here they are, demanding we take notice.

"They're just vibrant," he says.

"A good year for trees," he says.

So for now, at least, our jacarandas are blooming, a moment's worth of good news from outside.

As we weather the storms, our jacarandas bloom purple again 05/07/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 7, 2010 9:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bomb experts say materials at Tampa Palms murder scene were meant to kill


    TAMPA — Easily obtainable chemicals and equipment that investigators found at the scene of a double murder in Tampa Palms were assembled for one purpose, according to explosives experts: To create an improvised explosive device that could kill people and destroy property.

  2. Gov. Rick Scott's family history of alcohol abuse could decide 'liquor wall" bill


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott must decide Wednesday whether to let Walmart and other big-box stores sell liquor, and he says a factor in his decision is the history of alcohol abuse in his family.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott is considering a veto of a bill that would allow Walmart, Target and other big box retail stores to sell liquor. [Andres Leiva | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021


    Tampa's Super again. Or at least it will be soon.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 

Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)
  4. Spacewalking astronauts pull off urgent repairs at International Space Station (w/video)


    CAPE CANAVERAL — Spacewalking astronauts completed urgent repairs at the International Space Station on Tuesday, replacing equipment that failed three days earlier and restoring a backup for a vital data-relay system.

    In this NASA provided frame from video, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer works to install antennas at the International Space Station while astronaut Peggy Whitson, not pictured, works on repairs Tuesday, May 23, 2017. [NASA via AP]
  5. Forecast: Severe storms, gusty winds for Tampa Bay as cold front arrives Wednesday


    Muggy and dry conditions will prevail across the Tampa Bay region ahead of a cold front that could produce gusty winds and potentially severe storms late Wednesday.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]