London has Wisteria hysteria, Japan has cherry blossoms, and South Africa has the purple plumage of the Jacaranda trees. Lasting around four weeks, Spring blooms cover tens of thousands of trees, transforming the city and laying a thick carpet of purple petals on the streets. Seriously, walking through a sea of petals through a tunnel of purple flowers is like a real life fairytale! The flowers last from early October until early November, so my trip in mid-October was by chance perfectly timed!
I really didn’t realise what a big deal these trees were! Apparently thousands of Japanese tourists travel to South Africa every year to appreciate them in flower. The blossoms are also better known in Japan than any other South African tourist attractions such as Table Mountain! Feeling grateful for the good timing, I went hunting for the best spots to see Jacaranda trees in bloom around Johannesburg.
Where to find Jacaranda trees in Jo’burg
If you want the blooms all to yourself, Melrose has some quiet Jacaranda-lined streets. We walked down Jameson Avenue and the surrounding roads.
Right next door to Melrose, we headed Tyrwhitt Avenue, then onto to Jellicoe Lane to wander through a purple tunnel.
Highland road and the nearby Juno road are stunning tree-lined streets in this historic suburb. The trees are not native to South Africa but were so popular in the late 1800s that they were planted along almost every new street being built. They’re now considered invasive and it’s illegal to plant them, but they should still be around for some time given their 200 year lifespan!
Munro Drive weaves its way along Observatory Ridge in Houghton. It’s an ideal hunting ground for mature Jacaranda trees and there’s a viewpoint where you can stop and look out over the North of the city. You can just see the light dome of the observatory in the distance in the picture below.
5. Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff
We concluded our arboreal afternoon at the Four Seasons for lunch and cocktails on their wraparound terrace with views over the city. The smell of jasmine from the gardens lingers in the breeze and you can see the eruption of the Jacaranda trees from another angle. You also get a view of the animals at Johannesburg Zoo, so don’t be too surprised if you hear a lion roar!
Right next door are The Westcliff Steps – 210 to be precise – where you can go and burn off your lunch and are treated to a view from the top (or you could just stay here and have more cocktails as the view is pretty similar).
6. Pretoria (sneaky addition to the list)
We didn’t make it to Pretoria unfortunately as it’s 45 minutes away and the parents were a bit tired. However, it HAS to be on this list as it’s known as the Jacaranda City with nearly 20% of all the trees being Jacarandas! Bear in mind that the trees here can flower a week or two earlier due to Pretoria’s different climate.
While I loved dancing through falling petals, not everyone is delighted when the Jacaranda trees flower. Students know that when the trees burst into bloom, they need to be seriously studying for their end of year exams, so the Jacaranda tree is sometimes referred to as the exam tree. Legend has it that if a jacaranda flower falls on a student, they’ll pass all of their exams!