Pretoria, the capital of South Africa’s most popular resident is arguably the Jacaranda tree. This city is more know as Jacaranda city and is covered under a blanket of purple flowers during blooming season. However beautiful the flowers from the Jacaranda may be, there is controversy about whether these trees are truly welcome in South Africa or not.
Jacaranda trees were introduced to South Africa in 1880 for ornamental purposes, with home roots in Argentina, South America. The trees can be found in enormous numbers in South Africa and in particular Pretoria since they were planted in parks, gardens and along the streets. It is estimated that there are more than 50,000 trees firmly rooted in South Africa. The local government passed an act a few years ago that declared the Jacaranda a “weed and invader” plant. This didn’t go down well with residents who look forward to the stream of purple which blooms every year in October. Everyone adores the trees, from locksmiths in Centurion to students studying at the University. Legend has it that when final exams are looming, it is good luck to have a blossom from the Jacaranda tree fall on year head; if you are a final student you will then most definitely pass the exam with flying colours.
Officials recently listed the jacaranda under a special category of alien invasive species, which allows the city to keep existing trees but not to replant them when they die. The phrase “alien invasive plant” has become established jargon among some environmentalists in South Africa recently. Environmentalists see the harm that the Jacaranda is doing to local plants and environment. However, non-South African plants, like the Jacaranda, have enriched this country and Pretoria would be much poorer without the invaders’ enormous natural resources.
To bridge the gap between the contradictive thoughts about the Jacaranda, a local company won a World Bank award for manufacturing eco-friendly coffins using wood from invasive tree. The alien has many uses and whether you are a locksmith, student or house wife, the Jacaranda seed is planted deep within South African hearts.