When I bought my first house in Mar Vista (the west side of Los Angeles) in the month of November I was ecstatic because we had jacaranda trees on the street. As my husband occupied the garage with his hobbies and his car, I parked on the street. By April I was not so ecstatic. My car was covered with purple splotches that only the most expensive car wash could eradicate. I still loved the beautiful jacarandas but no more parking in the street.
Now I live in Culver City and am delighted to have the trees on my street. With jacaranda trees you have to take the good with the bad. The good, of course, is the wondrous sight of those magnificent purple flowers. The bad is that the flowers drop on the ground, or whatever happens to be nearby, and leave their mark to announce they were there. I wish my hair color lasted as long as a jacaranda stain! No, I’m really not quite ready for purple hair.
I understand that where the jacaranda trees originated (in South America, like Argentina and Brazil) the color is more on the blue side. I prefer the purple as it is one of my favorite colors. After all, it’s part of our cultural experience. Jimi Hendrix’ Purple Haze, the English rock band Deep Purple and the movie The Color Purple are some examples. And because purple was so difficult and expensive to produce in ancient and medieval times it has always been associated with Emperors and Royalty.
Right now the jacarandas in Los Angeles are at their best. My tour goers from outside of California ask about the trees as they are not familiar with these purple wonders. As the tour bus drives over the overpasses there are lovely views of the tops of the trees, especially in West Los Angeles.
Like many other trees and plants that enjoy our climate, jacarandas are not native to the area. Apparently a horticulturalist named Kate Sessions opened a plant nursery in San Diego’s Balboa Park in 1892 and was the first to plant them.
Yesterday I walked around my neighborhood, which happens to be the downtown Culver City area, and I took some photos so you can see what I see every day out on the street.
(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)