The Difference Between Jacaranda Leaves vs. Poinciana Leaves

Jacaranda Tree

Planting a decorative tree can enhance the beauty of your landscape. If you move into a new home with existing trees, it can be difficult to tell the difference between some trees if you’ve not yet seen them bloom. Homeowners commonly mistake Jacaranda from Poinciana. There are similarities, but there are also differences that set the two apart, If you’re wondering how to tell these trees apart, here is everything you need to know about the difference between Jacaranda Leaves vs. Poinciana Leaves, along with the benefits and disadvantages of each type tree.

What is a Jacaranda tree?

Asking a lot explains that the Jacaranda tree is native to South America. The beautiful tree was exported across the globe because of its stunning visual beauty. The trees have been outlawed in South America because of their hearty root system that spreads invasively. No new trees are allowed to be planted in some regions because it spreads so rapidly. The root systems have a defensive mechanism that leads to fungal issues when mowed dug out. The trees symbolize wealth, good, luck, rebirth, and wisdom. The blossoms smell faintly of honey, but the blooms smear on the ground when walked on and make surfaces slick. There are 49 species of the tree, but the Blue Jacaranda is the most prolific, blooming in the spring and the fall. The trees live between 50 to 75 years reaching heights between 25 to 50 feet at maturity.

How to identify a Jacaranda by its leaves

Jacaranda leaves are unique, however, they are similar to Poinciana leaves. They’re delicate structures that grow between 8 to 15 inches in length in a bi-pinnate platform. Each leaf is composed of large and small leaflets referred to as majors and minors. Each leaf is made up of alternate pairings of minor leaflets that can range from 13 to 25 in a configuration that resembles a delicate fern. The leaflets grow from the mid-rib. with 13 to 25 major leaflets measuring up to 18 inches long. The shapes of the leaves can vary from obovate with a broad middle and diamond to rhomboid shapes. The underside of the leaves turns brown before the leaves fall in fall, but are light green before frost with darker green upsides.

What is a Poinciana?

Poinciana trees are also decorative plants. They’re also called Royal Poinciana. it’s one of the most visually stunning trees in the world. The tree grows to between 30 to 50 feet at maturity, growing in zones 10 and warmer, preferring tropical climates. Garden Guides explains that Poinciana trees originated in Madagascar. They bloom in late spring to the middle of summer with orange-red flower clusters that grow prolifically across the canopy of the tree. The petals may be claw or club-shaped with five petals, with white speckles. Large seed pods grow on the branches, turning dark brown. The trees reach a height between 8 and 20 feet.

How to identify a Poinciana by its leaves

The leaves of the Poinciana are feathery with a similar complex pinnate. Like the Jacaranda tree, the Royal Poinciana leaves are bipinnate. The major leaflets growing along the mid-rib grow in 10 to 20 pairs in alternate patterns. The major leaflets grow from 8 to 15 inches long. Between 25 to 35 pairs of minor leaflets grow, giving the Poinciana leaf a finer and more feathery texture when compared with jacaranda leaves. The leaflet measures under 20inches long. The leaves are green on the top with lighter green on the underside.

What are the differences between Jacaranda and Poinciana leaves?

It’s difficult to tell the leaves of these two ornamental trees apart without comparing them side by side. Hunker explains that the trunk of the Jacaranda arches with thin bark. The color is grayish-brown that develops scales as it ages. The tree has thorns and a light zigzag pattern in the reddish-brown twigs that grow. The trees do not produce flowers until they reach maturity between 7 to 14 years. Poinciana trees may flower between 7 to 10 years. The bark is gray, but it is smooth. The flowers of the Jacaranda and Poinciana trees are also different. The blooms of the Jacaranda grow in the shape of a trumpet in lavender blue. Each flower is 1 inch long. They grow in clusters that range from 6 to 10 inches. They’re lightly fragrant and can appear before the leaves. The Poinciana flowers are scarlet orange with some yellow varieties. The flowers are 3 to 4 inches with four petals that grow to 2 inches in length. The best way to tell the plants apart by their leaves is to count the major and minor leaflets. Poinciana leaves feature more leaflets for a feathery texture.

Final thoughts

It’s not easy to tell a Jacaranda tree from a Poinciana if the trees are not yet at the flowering stage. The flowers are distinctly different, but the leaves are remarkably similar. There are more major and minor leaflets on the leaf structures of the Poinciana trees, and they have a fine texture. This description won’t mean much unless you have a Jacaranda leaf to compare. If your goal is to tell the two trees apart, the best way short of the blooms is to compare the bark. The bark of the Jacaranda tree is grayish-brown colored. The exterior of the tree gets scaly as the tree ages. The bark has a rough texture compared to the smooth texture of the Poinciana. The color is also different. The Poinciana has a smooth gray bark. Both are beautiful trees that can complement your landscape but beware of the Jacaranda tree because it has a vigorous root system that can take over the landscape and overshadow other plants growing in the area. It’s even illegal to plant the tree in some regions of the world because it is considered an invasive plant species. We hope that the information provided about the differences in Jacaranda leaves from Poinciana leaves.

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