Purple haze: Jacaranda fever hits San Diego

May Gray and its steely sister June Gloom are in full effect in Southern California. They do have a foil, though — in the legions of Jacaranda mimosifolia trees that are lighting up our city’s skies and streets with their purple flowers.

They’re common in South America and the Caribbean. (The name comes from the indigenous Guaraní word for “fragrant.”) Famed horticulturist Kate Sessions brought jacarandas to our area in the early 20th century; today they’re the official urban flower of San Diego. They can be found dropping their purple bell-shaped flowers on sidewalks from Barrio Logan to Balboa Park to the Getty Center in LA.


Many gardeners believe that overwatering causes leaves to appear before the flowers. So it’s especially strange to see a leafy jacaranda right next to a defoliated one…

A late-spring bloomer, the jacaranda likes cobbly, dry soil, and can tolerate drought conditions. Its shallow root structure makes it a favorite of urban planners looking for trees that won’t buckle pavement. Ideally, flowers bloom before the leaves appear; it’s believed that premature foliage is a sign of overwatering.

Wanna bathe in the purple rain? On Hillquest you’ll find a mapped-out “Jacaranda Walk” of notable trees in and around Balboa Park.

See Jacaranda mimosifolia (blue jacaranda) around the world in the community garden.

And here are some shots that we took around town:


Pearl Street and Bishops Lane, La Jolla





Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach


India Street, Little Italy


11th Avenue, Downtown San Diego

Beardsley Street, Bario Logan

Beardsley Street, Barrio Logan


Beardsley Street, Barrio Logan


Newton Avenue, Barrio Logan