Monday, 1 December 2008

The curse of pedantry

About a month ago, the hills around Marburg were splashed with blodges of purple. Everywhere you looked you could see jacaranda trees in bloom. Despite being listed as a noxious weed by Ipswich City Council, the jacaranda remains popular. Google “jacaranda Australia” and you will quickly discover that South-east Queensland and Brisbane in particular are noted for their jacaranda trees. And of course, there is the famous Grafton Jacaranda Festival in New South Wales.

I had originally thought that I would weave something about jacarandas into the Jaeckels arrival although they will be arriving a little earlier than high flowering season. On doing a little research, I found that the jacaranda arrived in Australia from Brazil in 1879. It was brought to Grafton by an enthusiastic local seed merchant, H.A. Volkers. I haven’t been able to track down if he was the original importer of seeds or if he simply popularised them in northern NSW.

Noxious weed or not, they have become iconic plants in Australia with stories woven around their flowering, common references to “purple snow” and use of their name to denote Australianess e.g. Jacaranda Wiley Press. This is spite of the fact that they are common in India, Africa, warmer parts of the US and their native South America.

Reluctantly, I have decided that the Jaeckels won’t be welcomed to Brisbane by flowering jacarandas. Even if they had spread north to Queensland, the tree can take many years to flower and practically I can’t imagine that they would be around in the early 1870s. I’ll have to find some other exotic and more historically accurate trees to represent their new life.

I will however, leave you with a few photos of the huge old jacaranda behind the former principal’s residence at the state school just because it is beautiful and pedantry shouldn’t excessively inhibit aesthetics.


Anonymous said...

In the interests of pedantry - the Jacaranda is NOT listed by any authority as a NOXIOUS weed. It is however, listed by many local authorities as an ENVIRONMENTAL weed.

Blithe said...

I knew that if I didn't check the exact classification of "weediness" that someone would pick me up on it! I have to work more on my pedantry to keep up.