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The color of spring has sprung

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 22, 2013 at 04:15 PM

For many longtime Floridians, it's not spring until the sky fills with the purple majesty of jacaranda trees in bloom.

Summer may be around the corner, but for those awaiting the jacaranda, spring just arrived.

"The cold may have had an effect on flowering time," said Robert Irving, Tampa's urban forester. "The drought may have played a role in the growth of the new sprouts that produce the flowers."

But the display has begun.

"I saw five to 10 flowering within a two-mile radius along Florida Avenue, south of Sligh," he said.

The trees got a late start in Pinellas County, too, though it's generally warmer there.

A week ago, horticulturist Andy Wilson of the Pinellas Extension office was seeing jacarandas just coming into bloom.

In the 1960s, Bay area residents went nuts for the hardy Brazilian beauty, and blooming jacarandas colored neighborhoods and streets. But the post-revelry cleanup - all those withered blooms carpeting the ground - is a big job. A good number of tree owners got rid of their jacarandas after years of sweeping up after them, and they began fading from nurseries.

Still, their vivid show of neon lavender makes them a local icon.

"They're one of the most recognized trees in the area," Wilson said. "Those bluish purple flowers can be seen from quite a distance."

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