If you navigate the city of Lusaka, your eyes can’t help but marvel at the purple bells dangling from the Jacaranda trees. They are either scattered, fenced in private property or lined side by side on several roads across the city. The best views are caught on foot especially in Rhodes Park, Kabulonga, Ridgeway, Longacres and nearby areas, where the trees stand on their zig zag stems and wave their branches for attention.
Is it any wonder that this pretty flower is prevalent in these parts of Lusaka? Well here’s what my quick research found.
When colonialists invaded Africa, they brought with them varying species of plants to make themselves feel at home. Tree planting begun after 1913, when Lusaka was gazzetted as a local authority for administration. The Jacaranda tree, native to the Americas, was planted excessively as an ornament due to its flowering display. The said areas were particularly crowded with the plant because they were suburbs reserved for administrative officers in colonial service.
Jacaranda Tree – Nyerere Road, Long Acres
State House also has its own collection of this plant because the architect who designed the building, Sir Walcott, had a good eye for nature and left a huge proportion of the estate for landscaping. The tree is dotted around the premises with canopies offering shade.
The Jacaranda tree has also been planted widely in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenya and one can only be of the conclusion that the Europeans had everything to do with its existence in Africa. It is satisfying to note that a particular plant blooms at around the same time of the year in these countries and yet it is not native to either of them.
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