The history of the Jacaranda tree in Mexico City is much more than seeing it mark the start of spring every year, it is also the story of friendship between two nations sitting on oposite sides of the Pacific.
The Jacaranda characteristic for is beautiful lilac flowers is not originally from Mexico, in fact its origins lie in Brazil. Known in Portuguese as Yacaranda or the fragrant tree, Jacarandas made their way to Mexico by the end of the XIX century and although there is no exact record of when these magical trees entered the country, its beauty has captivated us for decades.
In 1910, Sanshiro Matsumoto departs from Japan in search of his father, Tatsugoro Matsumoto whom he hasn't seen in over 13 years. His travels bring him to Mexico City where finding his father became a simple task, as Tatsugoro was already known as the creator of the impecable garden of the Cristal Palace in Mexico City.
After finding his father, the two were tasked by the then president of Mexico, Álvaro Obregón in between 1920 and 1924 to beautify the city with the power of botany. The first suggestion came from the president himself, he wanted the cherry blossoms that decorate Japan to paint Mexico City pink every spring. The government asked to import over a dozen Sakura trees to Mexico and tried to grow them, however due to the city's region and climate all the saplings withered and died. In a search for a solution Tatsugoro suggested the use of the Jacaranda tree, its sturdy nature and easily adaptable to climate made it a prime candidate to use around the city.
In a monumental effort, Jacaranda saplings were brought over from Brazil and taken to the Matsumoto Nursery where they executed a tree propagation plan where they created dozens of trees that were then planted around the city. 100 years later, these lilac trees have become Mexico City's emblem of spring.
Jacaranda trees are not only beautiful trees, they also have powerful medicinal effects. Using the decoction of the jacaranda root serves as a sudorific that aids in expelling toxins and stimulates the immune system through perspiration.
This syrup has also been used as an antidote to treat venereal and gastric diseases, as well as furunculosis, anthrax, liver diseases, skin inflammations, hemorrhoids and aids in blood detoxification due to its diuretic and diaphoretic properties. The Jacaranda also has antiseptic properties and the liquid from the decoction can treat acne, syphilis, superficial wounds, chicken pox, sores and bone pain. It is important to note that the medicinal use of jacaranda should be administered by an expert.
Today, the Matsumoto's legacy live strong and we're reminded of their marvelous and enrichment of Mexico City's history and beauty. A museum dedicated to the cultivation and preservation of Bonsai Trees in Mexico was opened in Veracruz in honor of Tatsugoro Matsumoto.
Here are some of our favorite pics to see these magical trees in Mexico City are:
- Chapultepec Primera Sección Park
- Paseo de la Reforma
- Viveros de Coyoacan
- Ciudad Universitaria
- Parque Mexico
- Alameda Central