Harare's majestic jacarandas - icons or pests?

Look out of any Meikles North Wing window over Africa Unity Square at this time of year and you are greeted by the spectacular sight of Harare’s famous jacaranda trees starting their radiant purple bloom. These mid-September photos show just why Harare is known as the “City of Flowering Trees” and why the jacarandas are an iconic element.

The majestic blooms of the jacarandas signify the change of seasons and herald the arrival of summer. As the heat intensifies the jacarandas, and the flaming red of the flamboyants, become ever-more spectacular until the onset of the rains in October or November marks the end of their brief reign.

But controversy lurks! Jacaranda trees – that line so many Harare streets - are considered by many experts to be an exotic and invasive species that stifle the growth of other plant species. It is believed that these “alien” trees originated from Brazil and were first planted in Harare in 1899. The City of Harare has even been considering phasing them out and replacing them with indigenous trees.

What do you think? Should jacarandas, that are such an integral part of Harare’s history, be banned and phased out? Can we imagine Harare without them?