27 October, 2021       LISBON - MAX. Pleasant with plenty of sunshineº, MIN. 01º

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Folders  |  Lisbon’s jacaranda trees
Lisbon’s jacaranda trees
Hirondina Cavaco
Lisbon’s jacaranda trees
Lisbon’s jacaranda trees

Anyone who has visited Lisbon in June will definitely have the smell of basil and grilled sardines engraved on their memory, along with the bright colours of the Popular Festivals, and particularly the colour blue: the blue of the Tagus, the sky and the flowering branches of the nearly 2000 jacaranda  trees that line the city’s main streets.

The flowering of this tree, native to South America and originally called Tupi, tells all Lisbon dwellers that summer is just around the corner.

For me, it marks my arrival in the city twenty years ago.

I remember being totally in awe of this exuberant tree with flowers that with the changing light range in colour from mauve to blue.

When and how the flamboyant blue (or jacaranda mimosifolia, the most commonly found of the 800 species of this Bignoniaceae  worldwide) was introduced to Portugal nobody knows.

But one thing is sure: it covers vast areas of Lisbon (particularly the Parque Eduardo VII, the Largo do Carmo, Príncipe Real and the Avenue 5 de Outubro and Avenue D. Carlos I) and enchants all who see it.

The Lisbon jacaranda (yes, it’s even named after the city!) is basically a decorative plant, often used for urban greenery because its roots grow vertically, not damaging the surrounding roads and pavements. It can grow to a height of 15 metres, loses all its leaves in the winter and flowers abundantly and spectacularly at the start of summer.

It grows and propagates easily in warm climate (tropical and subtropical), using seeds contained in pods, like small wooden shell-shaped capsules,  that have inspired many artists who turn them into earrings and other environmentally-friendly adornments.

The many species of jacaranda are also a source of income for countries where they grow, for the trees produce a very fine wood (such as the pau-rosa, pau-santo, pau-preto) used to make luxury furniture and musical instruments.

For this reason, the jacaranda is unfortunately faced with extinction : its  felling for material gain is not planned and there is no proper reforestation, yet this tree takes a long time to reach maturity.

A sign of the times – and the impact of climate change – this year Lisbon’s jacarandas have flowered earlier than usual, but it’s still possible to experience their beauty. There are still parts of town where the ground is covered in a carpet of lavender-coloured bluebells.

Sit down on a bench, or even on the soft carpet and dive into the blue…. Let yourself float on the blue waves and dream of open seas, cross the Atlantic, arrive in a foreign land, a tropical haven where this plant originally came from (maybe as a first example of the globalisation favoured by the Portuguese nation), and let yourself be inspired and take in strength, beauty and peace. Enjoy this bewitching privilege… until next summer comes and they flower again!

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