The first time I encountered jacaranda was in Syndey, Australia a few years ago, where it was being used as a street tree. It is actually a native of subtropical South America, but its beauty contributes to it being widely cultivated around the world. Unfortunately, in some areas (Queensland in Australia, South Africa), it does too well–it is considered an invasive plant in those regions.
The Wikipedia entry for Jacaranda mimosifolia is jammed with information on subjects such as nomenclature, distribution and plant care.
Science learning / botany resource link: “Growing Vocabularies for Plant Identification and Scientific Learning” from the June / July 2006 Bulletin of the Association for Information Science and Technology. The article highlights an effort to bridge the gap between the plant identification vocabularies used by students and those used by professional scientists. Thanks to karol on the UBC forums for pointing this out.