Early Thursday evening Sydney University’s favourite and most iconic flora was returned after a nine-month hiatus. Perhaps not an exact replica as its beloved 88-year-old predecessor that collapsed last year, but as close as genetically possible.
Indeed the new jacaranda is the genetic clone of the original, grown by attaching old branches from the original jacaranda to another infant jacaranda’s roots.
Landscaper and grounds manager Mark Moeller began growing the tree after noticing the old jacaranda didn’t have much time left. Starting three years ago he began growing the new tree plus three backup clones.
We identified the need to be growing some genetic stock given the significance of the tree not just in the university but in Sydney itself.
The beloved jacaranda that sadly collapsed last October was planted in 1928 by academic E.G Waterhouse in 1928. The tree was so loved by the university and the city of Sydney, it was placed on Sydney’s Significant Tree register.
Extracting the seeds proved difficult, recalls Mr Moeller, as the tree was quite old, there weren’t any usable seeds left to utilise.
Devastated, the university hired a specialist grower to clone the original tree.
"They came and took cuttings from the tree back to the central coast and I believe it took about two dozen attempts. We probably wouldn't have put in this much time and effort had the tree not been as significant as it is."
Mr Moeller and Sydney University hold high hopes for the new jacaranda, predicting the new jacaranda will grow past the last jacaranda’s 18-metre mark and live far longer.
They can grow up to 30 metres and it should live beyond a hundred years. It's very healthy stock.
The new jacaranda was unveiled on Friday along with its new neighbour a native flame tree planted in the adjacent quadrangle. The Flame tree will flower the same time as the jacaranda.
Header: Sydney University's Jacaranda tree prior to collapse