The bane of drivers brave enough to park under them but a beauty to those who enjoy them: Long Beach’s jacaranda trees are back in bloom.
But just how many jacarandas dot our city and how did the trees get here in the first place?
A prodigiously purple portrait has emerged, thanks to a series of records requests by Los Angeles Times journalist Matt Stiles, seeking information about the types and locations of all the trees planted along streets across Los Angeles County.
Stiles and the Times created a growing database of individual trees, 1.75 million so far, and made the list publicly available. Of the 140,000 trees in Long Beach planted in a municipal right of way, 6,799 are jacarandas. It’s the second most popular type on the list of 140,000 trees, with magnolias topping the list, and queen palms, Mexican fan palms, and the Brisbane Box, a Eucalyptus-type of shade tree, rounding out the top five.
So, where does purple reign supreme in Long Beach? Here are all 6,799 jacarandas in the city, with a heat map showing the greatest concentrations:
Map by Dennis Dean, using data obtained by Matt Stiles at the Los Angeles Times.
Heliotrope hotspots include the streets around Gant Elementary and Whaley Park in Los Altos, Conant Street between Clark Avenue and Woodruff Avenue, Claremore Avenue and the El Dorado Park neighborhood east of the 605 Freeway, and 63rd Street between De Forest Park and Atlantic Avenue in North Long Beach.
Wondering why jacarandas are often planted near sidewalks or what causes the sticky remains (hint: it’s not from the tree or its flowers)? Check out these informative graphics designed and published by the Los Angeles Times.
The majority of the jacarandas found across Los Angeles County are Jacaranda mimosifolia, one of the nearly 50 different types of flowering jacaranda trees. The story of how the trees proliferated across Southern California started in 1892 on 32 acres of barren park land in San Diego.
That’s when pioneering horticulturalist Kate Sessions, who was profiled by Los Angeles Magazine last year, started planting non-native and tropical trees and plants in a sort-of public laboratory until her death in 1940. That land later became Balboa Park and Sessions’ legacy lives in the landscape across the region.
Originally published May 21, 2019. Updated May 11, 2020.
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