This bowing down to the jacaranda. These tales of streets of jacarandas created from seedlings given to women by their midwives after giving birth. What is this adoration, this worship, this myth-making?

You do know they’re not native to Australia? That they’re an import from South America. In Brisbane they’re seen as an ‘invasive species’ and regulated under the Natural Assets Local Law (but, such is the strength of their mystique, feature as the image on the link to the section about street trees on the same website[1]). In Sydney they’re not classified as a weed but you’re advised not to grow them near the bush, as they can spread and crowd out native plants.

I see them from the ferry, a haze of purple between greener trees. As a child I associated them with the blue rinse of my schoolfriends’ mothers. They still retain that irksome taint of the suburbs, where the best you could do to liven up the awful grind through life was to cover incipient grey hairs with blue dye, or put on an annual show of short-lived purple blooms, doomed to fall in the first shower of rain and lie deep and slushy, tripping up every unsuspecting passerby who will slide on the discarded, slippery muck.

The flowers that fall daintily to the ground on a sunny day are even more dangerous. You walk down the path in your bare feet and tread on a dazed bee crawling out of the long bell of the bloom. Your winter-tender feet meet a sharp sting of bee on the warm spring path. You’re hopping, the bee is dying. The jacaranda, I’m sure, is laughing. It etches another notch on its trunk.