In late spring, I started noticing these purple trees popping up all around our new home in southern California. So ethereal and vibrant, I was captivated. Purple has always been my favorite color.

Toddler brothers dancing in the purple rain of Jacaranda trees in California
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I started taking walks simply to seek out more of these purple wonders. And eventually some meandering drives. I even got my kids in on it. They now gleefully exclaim “look, I found another purple tree!”

Dubbed purple rain, purple haze, purple fever, or even purple nightmare. The trees are inarguably beautiful, though not everyone is enamored with them. They can make a bit of a mess of your car if you have to park under one in bloom regularly.

Where did the purple trees in California come from?

Jacaranda mimosifolia, also known as blue jacaranda, or simply jacaranda is native to South America. Today, you can also find them in other sub-tropical climates, most notably in Australia, South Africa, Spain, and California. Some say these are California’s version of cherry blossoms.

The flowers are a violet-blue color, have a trumpeted shape, and several flowers are clustered together in a bunch. Kate Sessions, an American botanist and horticulturalist, is credited for introducing jacaranda to California.

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When do purples trees bloom in California?

They typically bloom in late spring, a very welcome treat among June Gloom. This could be anytime from the end of May to the end of June in southern California depending on the year. 

I’ve heard they can bloom again in autumn, but I didn’t notice this our first year in California. I will be eagerly anticipating their next bloom whether that be soon, or not until next spring. 

Where can you find purple trees in Southern California?

If you frequently drive around Orange County in spring, it would be difficult to miss any jacarandas. But if you’re only visiting and hoping to spot some, Santa Ana probably has the most mature and grand jacaranda trees in Orange County. Try Linwood Avenue, Washington Avenue, Myrtle Street, Concord Street, and beyond. If they’re in bloom, you shouldn’t have trouble finding them, they’re all over. You can also find them in LA, San Deigo, and other spots in Southern California.

Many of the trees line residential streets, creating a beautiful purple canopy. If you plan to visit, please be respectful and act with decorum. Don’t block anyone’s driveway, the street or walk on people’s lawns.

Have you ever seen these purple trees? Where did you see them? If you are ever in Southern California or the other areas I mentioned in spring, don’t miss out on seeing these beauties.

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Looking up at a purple Jacaranda tree - blue sky
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