‘Spitting’ trees: readers share jacaranda memories

2010-11-09 00:00

FOLLOWING The Witness article about jacaranda trees (November 1), several readers have shared their jacaranda memories.

Said Delaine Cools, the interim media officer for the Comrades Marathon Association: “During my childhood in the sugar-cane farming community of Esperanza near Umzinto, a gorgeous jacaranda tree grew in front of the temple … but the jacaranda was also known as the ‘spitting buck tree’.

“The older kids always warned: ‘Never allow the tree to ‘spit’ on you, because your hair will fall out and never grow again.’

“Because of that old wives’ tale, we tried never to walk under the ancient jacaranda during bloom-time for fear of losing our lovely long hair.”

A newcomer to Pietermaritzburg from Pretoria, Mpho Magolego of the Auditor-General’s office, wrote that the first thing she noticed on arriving in the city was the jacaranda trees.

“They instantly made me feel that I can make myself at home …

“My fondest memory of them was when I was a student in Cape Town. I fell in love with Cape Town and did not want to go back to Pretoria … I was walking along Main Road, Rondebosch, and looking down when I saw a purple carpet.

“It was such a surprise as there are hardly any jacaranda trees in Cape Town.

“It was a sign that I was going back home and I need not worry about anything; God has it under control. Jacaranda trees mean I’m home in Maritzburg.”

Peter Warner wrote from Wembley to say that the there is some truth in the old wives’ tale that the liquid of jacaranda flowers can harm the eyes. “Our family moved to Pretoria early in 1935 and later that year my sisters and I woke every morning with our eyes gummed shut.

“Our mother forbade us to pull the crystals off our eyelashes, but dissolved them in a lukewarm solution of, I think, boracic powder.

“We moved back to the Eastern Cape in the middle of 1936 and never experienced this again.

“About 10 years later I worked in Pretoria and during October one of my friends complained of irritation to his eyes, calling it ‘jacaranda eyes’.

“… My mother confirmed that our problem as children had been during jacaranda flowering time.”

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