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The Jacaranda City

From late September to middle November, Jacarandas bloom all over Pretoria and turn the face of the city purple. It is estimated that there are almost 70 000 Jacarandas growing around the many streets, parks and gardens of Pretoria.

Jacarandas blooming in Pretoria.

Jacaranda mimosifolia is not indigenous to South Africa and was introduced from Brazil to South Africa in 1829. It is seen as an invader tree but existing Jacarandas do not have to be eradicated.

Some of Pretoria’s oldest Jacarandas can be found around Bosman and Cilliers Streets, where some of the first lanes of Jacarandas were planted. There is also a claim that the biggest and oldest Jacaranda in Pretoria can be found on the corner of Eastwood and Stanza Bopape (old Church Street).

Jacarandas in Rigel Avenue

To get a birds-eye-view of the phenomena take a drive along Klapperkop, which has many viewpoints from where to admire this sea of purple.

If you are on one of the northern viewpoints of Klapperkop, you will also be able to spot a line of white trees along the foot of Klapperkop’s northern slope. This is Herbert Baker Street in Groenkloof, which has a row of almost 100 white trees. These trees are also Jacarandas, but have a pure white flower instead of a purple one. They are said to be sterile and is a cultivar of the main species.

White Jacaranda blossoma against the purple of a purple Jacaranda tree.

Pretorians love their Jacarandas and students from the University of Pretoria believe that if you are studying for your final year exams and a blossom falls on your head, you will pass your exams with flying colours.

In Nelson Mandela’s book: Long Walk to Freedom, he remarks that during the Treason Trial, one of South Africa’s longest trials in history – 1956 to 1961 – held at the Old Synagogue in Paul Kruger Street, they were permitted to have lunch in a nearby garden:

“Those moments under the shade of the jacaranda trees on the vicarage lawn were the most pleasant of the trial …” – Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom. 

During Madiba’s inauguration speech, on 10 May 1994 at the Union Buildings, he again referred to Jacarandas:

To my compatriots, I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld. – Nelson Mandela

Jacaranda blossoms

Next time the Jacarandas are in bloom, why not park your car at the Union Buildings and take a stroll east of the buildings along Government Avenue. This avenue is one of the few, if not only, places in Pretoria where each pavement has a double row of Jacarandas. The reason for this are that they were to provide shade for government officials walking to the Union Buildings from Bryntirion Estate

Another option for Jacaranda viewing would be to take a slow drive through Arcadia, past Loftus and through, Sunnyside and Brooklyn where many of the streets forms a closed canopy of purple.

Jacarandas next to Loftus in Kirkness Street.

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