This is a tree native to Central and South America, and the South Atlantic. There are 49 species of Jacaranda, but this one is by far the most popular in cultivation and the only one you're likely to find for sale. It's probably one of my 10 or 15 favorite trees.
Leaves are fern-like, similar to the popular Silk tree, Albizia julibrissin. The Jacaranda has more to offer. The tree is longer lived, stays green longer into the season, has an interesting branching pattern, and its biggest claim to fame is the purple flowers usually in May or June. Flowers of this color are highly unusual in trees. There are cultivars of this with white flowers, which aren't nearly as appealing. I've heard of some with red or other colors, but need to research that more. Luckily, mostly you'll see the purple-flowering versions in nurseries. Some flowers tend to be more blue than others.
These trees are deciduous, at least in our climate. But the dormant season is shorter. I have one that I'm bonsaifying, and here it is Christmas Eve and it still looks lush, almost like it's in Spring growth mode. I bring it indoors when the temp drops below about 40 F. they supposedly can tolerate temps as low as 20 F. I think I've had this from a seedling for about 9 or 10 years, and it's now about 20" tall. I'm torn between cutting it back a bit because it looks great now, though I would like to fatten up the trunk a bit. Easy to care for. I've read you can actually grow them indoors, but I don't really have the right light conditions at my place. So out it goes. The one below is not mine. Mine doesn't look this good yet. Doubt it ever will. Apparently, flowering is difficult with bonsai or potted or indoor Jacarandas. Mine never has shown its colors. But it's a great looking tree even without flowers.
There aren't that many of these in the East Bay. I've seen more in San Jose, and bunch down in L.A. They should be more popular around here. Some people may consider them a bit messy, but then all flowering trees are.
Most of these I've seen have a height of 20 to 35 feet, and a trunk diameter of between one and two feet, but there are some specimens that are over 100' tall and have a trunk diameter of about 6'. They're suspected to live up to 200 years.
Apparently, the flowers are known for various healing properties, and smell great, too. I guess this tree has it all!
"Jacaranda" is Portuguese, meaning "having a hard branch or core". No idea why they called it that. The term "Mimosifolia" seems more complex, something to do with the flowers and delicate leaves that are sensitive to touch, but I can't figure it all out.
Apparently, Jacaranda and related species introduce nitrogen into the soil, making it good for other plants. Maybe I should introduce nitogen to people, and I would have more friends.
Get one. A Jacaranda, that is.