Get 40% Off
⚠ Earnings Alert! Which stocks are poised to surge?
See the stocks on our ProPicks radar. These strategies gained 19.7% year-to-date.
Unlock full list

Early jacaranda bloom sparks debate about climate change in Mexico

Published 02/25/2024, 06:08 AM
Updated 02/25/2024, 09:22 AM
© Reuters. A bird rests on a jacaranda tree branch in Mexico City, Mexico. February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Raquel Cunha

By Diego Oré

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - 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.

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. To do this, he has started to lead a group of young people who are collecting data throughout the city and using satellite imagery.

He noted rising temperatures caused winter in the Mexican capital to end early this year, in mid-January, instead of late March when it is supposed to end.

ADAPTATION

Enthralled by the Japanese cherry trees that cover Washington, D.C. in pink and white every spring, Mexican President Pascual Ortiz (1930-1932) set out to replicate the same landscape in his nation's capital.

But Tatsugoro Matsumoto, a Japanese landscape architect who settled in Mexico in the late 19th century, told him they would not survive the city's temperate climate for long, so he advocated for jacarandas, a tropical tree he had learnt about during a brief stay in Peru.

Since then, the tree has become a staple for Mexico City's nine million inhabitants.

In January alarm spread when users on social networks started to publish photos of flowering jacarandas and began to wonder about the effects of climate change.

"Like never before (...) people have started to say 'this is serious, it's real' and it's no longer just a polar bear floating adrift'," said Cristina Ayala, biologist and doctor in Sustainability Sciences.

"It is very good that people are beginning to become aware of what climate change is going to bring to us as urbanites," she added.

© Reuters. A bird rests on a jacaranda tree branch in Mexico City, Mexico. February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Raquel Cunha

Although they are not native to Mexico, for Ayala, jacarandas fulfill an important function for the city. They attract more hummingbirds and bees than many native trees, so a change in flowering could lead to a decrease in these populations.

"One would like the jacarandas to bloom all year round, they brighten the city," said Alex Estrada, a resident of the Mexican capital, while observing a tree that was beginning to turn purple. "But something is not right here: jacarandas in winter?" he wondered.

Latest comments

Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.
© 2007-2024 - Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.