Singapore has been graced with the blooms of the pink trumpet trees (Tabebuia rosea) for the past few weeks, but have you seen their purple-flowered relatives flowering in the Gardens? Meet their lesser-known cousins, the jacarandas!
The genus Jacaranda consists of about 50 species of large shrubs and trees, all of which are found across the tropical and subtropical regions of North, Central, and South America. A member of the trumpet vine family (Bignoniaceae), they are related to the pink trumpet tree along with other ornamental species such as the calabash tree (Crescentia cujete), the African sausage tree (Kigelia africana), yellow bells (Tecoma stans) and the New Guinea trumpet vine (Tecomanthe dendrophila). The generic name Jacaranda—also often used as the common name for all species within the genus—is derived from Tupi-Guarani language family and translates to ‘sweet-smelling’, referring to the fragrant flowers.
Our flowering specimen here in Gardens by the Bay is a Jacaranda caucana! This species is native to the moist forests of Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. Like their Tabebuia relatives, they shed their leaves during the dry season and produce racemes of blue-purple, trumpet-like flowers that fill the entire canopy when the trees are leafless.
Due to the lack of a distinct dry season in Singapore, jacarandas growing here never completely shed their leaves, so we will not be able to see the same profuse blooms on bare-branched jacarandas as those growing in their native environment. Though the flowers of this uncommon Jacaranda species can’t compare to its more floriferous, darker-flowered cousin, Jacaranda obtusifolia, which is more common and becoming naturalised throughout Singapore’s park and streetscape, the handsome, pendant foliage, open canopy, and delicate, fern-like leaves make Jacaranda caucana a uniquely beautiful tree even when not in bloom.
Like the ‘Singapore sakura’ (Tabebuia rosea), the flowering period of the jacaranda will not last long. So make your way down to Gardens by the Bay and spot this ‘blue’ beauty outside the Serene Garden, overlooking the waters at the southern part of Dragonfly Lake!
Written by: Hazri Boey, Senior Horticulturist (Gardens Operations)
Hazri not only surrounds himself with plants at work; he has an abundant collection at home too! Having nurtured a keen interest in nature since young, he might have gone on to become a zookeeper caring for owls or sloths had it not been for his plant identification talent!