The University of Sydney’s famous jacaranda tree has been replaced with a cloned jacaranda as well as a native Flame tree.
For almost 90 years, the iconic ‘Waterhouse’ jacaranda that graced the University of Sydney Quadrangle was the backdrop for thousands of graduation, and many other, photos.
Now a new jacaranda sits adjacent to a native Flame tree to create an even more glorious shot. So while you’re waiting for them to bloom this spring, here are nine things you should know about the new residents of the Quad...and another interesting little fact.
The Flame tree is often used as a companion plant to the jacaranda, as they are both deciduous and both flower in late spring creating a spectacular display of purple and scarlet blooms.
Unlike the more reliable jacaranda, the Flame tree’s bloom can be a bit fickle. While they tend to flower best after a hot, dry summer, flowering is variable – sometimes they only flower on one side, or they may flower one year but not the next.
The striking purplish blue bell-shaped flowers of the jacaranda usually appear for up to two months, before dropping to form a stunning lavender carpet. One story credits their abundance in Sydney to the efforts of a hospital matron who in the 1900s began a tradition of sending newborns home with a jacaranda seedling; while a less romantic reason perhaps lies in the fact the trees were a popular civic plant in the beautification programs of the early 20th century up to the 1950s and 1960s.
The Flame tree’s yellow seeds were carefully toasted before being eaten by Indigenous Australians. The soft spongy wood and inner bark was also used in the Illawarra region to make nets and fishing lines, while the timber was used in artifacts.
The iconic ‘Waterhouse’ jacaranda tree previously located in the Quadrangle was planted in 1928 by Sydney academic - and keen horticulturalist - EG Waterhouse. It was the professor’s third bid to successfully grow a jacaranda in the space. In 2014, cuttings were taken from the original Waterhouse Jacaranda and grafted onto the base of genetically related trees, one of which is now located in the Quad.
The University of Sydney’s main campus has around 28 hectares of open space, including more than 2,000 trees, 71 percent of which are native, spread across Darlington and Camperdown.
The University’s much-loved jacaranda graced the southern end of the Quadrangle for 88 years before dying in 2016. The planting of a native flame tree and a clone of the original jacaranda was celebrated in a special ceremony today.