The original jacaranda collapsed in October last year with its loss acknowledged by the current student population and generations of past alumni from around the world.
The new tree was grown by grafting cuttings from the original plant to the root of another jacaranda tree when the University’s Landscape and Grounds Manager Mark Moeller identified that the original tree was failing around three years ago.
He engaged a leading specialist in this field based on the Central Coast and success was achieved after nearly two dozen attempts to clone the tree.
The new Illawarra native flame tree was also sourced from the same nursery.
The planting of the trees was done under cover of darkness with the specialist growers delivering the trees the night before the official welcoming ceremony that was attended by over 150 guests.
The guest list included the former NSW Governor Professor Marie Bashir, representatives from the consulates of China, Indonesia and the Netherlands, as well as descendants of Eben Waterhouse the Professor of German and Comparative Literature who planted the original jacaranda in 1928.
The ceremony included a dance performance by the Sydney-based youth dance company the Jannawi Dance Clan, with a welcome to country by Uncle Allen Madden, Gadigal Elder and member of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.
The Chancellor Belinda Hutchison, Vice-Chancellor and Principal Michael Spence officiated at the event and spoke about the significance of this moment in the history of the University with the planting of a native tree in the Quadrangle being an important symbol of the lasting impact of the Gadigal people who have held stewardship of the University grounds for centuries.
The ceremony concluded with a special arrangement of the Paul Kelly and Kevin Carmody song “From Little Things Big Things Grow” by students from the Conservatorium of Music.
The new jacaranda tree is expected to be bigger than the previous tree and to live for longer, and is planted adjacent to the flame tree.
The folklore around the original jacaranda tree was that if a student had not started studying before the tree’s first blooms appeared they were doomed to fail their exams. The new jacaranda and the flame tree will flower at the same time so students from hereon will have double the warning to hit the books.
Thousands of students had their graduation photos taken in front of our former beloved jacaranda. The new flame tree and jacaranda tree will provide a magnificent backdrop for future graduations for generations to come.