Early jacaranda bloom sparks debate about climate change in Mexico

Local scientists have begun investigating how widespread the early-bloom phenomenon is

By REUTERS
February 26, 2024
View of Jacaranda mimosifolia trees in the Alameda Central Park in Mexico City, on March 25, 2023. — AFP

MEXICO CITY: Every spring, the streets of Mexico’s capital are painted purple with the flowering of thousands of jacaranda trees. Their spectacular colors not only attract the eyes of residents and tourists, but also birds, bees and butterflies that find food and shelter in them.But this year something changed.

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Some jacarandas began blooming in early January, when they normally awaken in spring. The early onset bloom has set off alarm bells among residents and scientists in Mexico City, where the trees have become an iconic, photogenic mainstay of city streets.

Local scientists have begun investigating how widespread the early-bloom phenomenon is, but they point to climate change as the first culprit.“We’ve always seen the jacaranda beginning to bloom towards the end of March, in spring, when we see the flowers change to violet,” said Constantino Gonzalez, a researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Change Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).“They are starting to flower in January, February, which is winter, when it is not yet their time,” said the biologist of 48 years.

Gonzalez explained that in order to draw a correlation between climate change and the early flowering of jacarandas his team needs a representative sample and compare blooms year to year.

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