'Something Is Not Right Here': Mexico City's Famed Jacaranda Trees Bloom Early

Feb 28, 2024

A springtime stroll down a wide-laned calle in Mexico City can be a thing of beauty. The city's streets are shaded by the purple blossoms of the jacaranda tree. Many look forward to the vibrant display in the capital city in late March. But 2024 brought a change. The trees have already bloomed. That's leading many to wonder if the effects of climate change are hitting too close to home.   

"We've always seen the (trees start) to bloom towards the end of March, in spring, when we see the flowers change to violet," Constantino Gonzalez told Reuters. He's a climate change research expert based in Mexico. "They are starting to flower in January, February, which is winter, when it is not yet their time.”     

Gonzalez has asked young people in the city to track the trees. They are using cell phone photos and satellite images to do so. He hopes to assess the timing and spread of the blooms to answer a key question: Is 2024 a unique instance or long-term symptom of a warming planet? 

Last year was the hottest in recorded history. And Mexico has faced record heat spikes for the last 8 years running, says its National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change.   

The jacarandas were planted in the 1930s. They were part of a former president's efforts to make Mexico City more modern. They are meant to echo the cherry blossoms of Washington, DC in the US. Yet they’ve been embraced by the city’s people as a symbol uniquely theirs. 

"One would like the (trees) to bloom all year round, they brighten the city," Mexico City resident Alex Estrada told Reuters. "But something is not right here: jacarandas in winter?"   

Reflect: What signs of seasonal change do you usually see in your neighborhood? How would you feel if those signs changed drastically? 

Photo from Reuters.

What indicates that the blooming of jacarandas is unusual? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. The jacarandas usually bloom in late March every year.
b. Residents of Mexico City dislike the jacaranda trees.
c. The jacarandas have always bloomed in winter.
d. The trees are not native to Mexico City.
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