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Purple jacaranda trees fill Tampa Bay’s landscape this time of year

The pretty pop of color showed up a little early, making the blooms appear a little thinner because of our warm winter, horticulturalists say.
Jacaranda flowers are blooming across the Tampa Bay area. (This stunner is in Clearwater.) The fragrant, showy flower of the jacaranda blooms any time from April through August, but around here the purple, trumpet-shaped flower is most often in full bloom in late April and early May.
Jacaranda flowers are blooming across the Tampa Bay area. (This stunner is in Clearwater.) The fragrant, showy flower of the jacaranda blooms any time from April through August, but around here the purple, trumpet-shaped flower is most often in full bloom in late April and early May. [ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]
Published Apr. 27

One of the most eye-catching signs of spring in the Tampa Bay area is the gorgeous pops of purple and light blue as jacaranda trees bloom in late April and May.

Thanks to a fairly warm winter they started blooming early, which can make some trees appear a bit thin since they aren’t blooming all at once, according to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“The jacaranda trees are a bit early this year,” said Theresa Badurek, a Pinellas urban horticulture agent. The density of bloom varies from tree to tree and the amount of bloom increases with the age of the trees, she said.

A jacaranda tree towers over the landscape with a pop of purple color in Clearwater. The South American import is not native to Florida, but is not considered an invasive or nuisance tree, horticulturalists say.
A jacaranda tree towers over the landscape with a pop of purple color in Clearwater. The South American import is not native to Florida, but is not considered an invasive or nuisance tree, horticulturalists say. [ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]

Although it is non-native, the South American import is not considered a problem species here in Florida, according to IFAS. It is drought-tolerant and hardy, preferring full sun and sandy soil. But it doesn’t like cold temperatures, so Tampa and Clearwater on the west coast and Melbourne on the east coast are about as far north as you will see them in Florida.

Almost the entire state of Florida had below-average rainfall this winter. While we did have a few cold snaps, the average temperature the past three months was slightly above normal, IFAS reported.

Jacaranda flowers provide a beautiful pop of color in April and May, and then comes the somewhat messy cleanup.
Jacaranda flowers provide a beautiful pop of color in April and May, and then comes the somewhat messy cleanup. [ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]

If you are thinking of planting a jacaranda, they grow pretty rapidly, reaching heights of 25 to 30 feet in less than 10 years. But keep in mind they are messy, shedding a carpet of purple flowers, feathery leaves and seed pods. And their brittle branches don’t hold up well to tropical storms.

“While they are not invasive, they are also not known for strong wood, so they are not especially wind-resistant,” Badurek said. “They could be recommended for planting in large yards or parks where there is nothing for falling branches to damage.”

Jacaranda blooms are a boon to pollen-harvesting bees as the tree's flowers blanket the grass, sidewalks and streets.
Jacaranda blooms are a boon to pollen-harvesting bees as the tree's flowers blanket the grass, sidewalks and streets. [ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]

The lightly fragrant, showy flower blooms any time from April through August, but most often in May. The blanket of flowers on the grass, sidewalks and streets attracts pollen-harvesting bees.

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The light, dappled shade makes jacaranda well-suited for cooling patios, “but it probably should not be used near pools due to the abundant leaf and flower drop,” an IFAS guideline says. “Jacaranda makes an ideal street tree, creating a spectacular sight when in full bloom.”

Jacaranda flowers, like this one in Gulfport, bloomed a little early this year, making the trees look a little thinner, horticulturalists say, because there wasn't an explosion of blooms all at once.
Jacaranda flowers, like this one in Gulfport, bloomed a little early this year, making the trees look a little thinner, horticulturalists say, because there wasn't an explosion of blooms all at once. [ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]
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