December 28, 2008

Palos Borrachos


Palos Borrachos a independencia, originally uploaded by blmurch.

One of my favorite trees here in Buenos Aires is the Palo Borracho. I first encountered them along 9 de julio, specifically at the Independencia subte stop along the C-line. There is a gorgeous row of about half a dozen rotund prickly trees. Their oval trunks remind me of chianti bottles that you see as candleholders in Italian restaurants. I have been told they are only full like this when there is water below for them to store. Palo Borracho means "drunken pole" and I'm not sure if it refers to fact that they store water or if they look like a wine bottle, either way it fits. Their trunks have a green tinge to them and when young are covered in thick sharp thorns. As they age, the thorns fade from their aged bodies and relocate to their younger extremities. I'm not sure what they are protecting against, but damn they are sharp and not to be messed with.

In the spring, avocado-like seedpods dangle from their branches in hard green shells. As time goes by, or as parrots attack, they burst open and the fluffy cotton insides fly all over the place making a mess. As spring turns into summer, buds form and the large lily-like flowers open up. Most of the palo borracho trees in Buenos Aires have pink flowers, but some are somewhere in between white and yellow. I prefer the luscious pink flowers. They are a sight to behold. I've mostly seen young palo borracho trees here specifically planted in the parks. Once, I did see one growing in the crack of a roof terrace in a one story building in San Telmo. Not sure which will go first, the tree or the building.

You can see more photos of these beautiful trees on my flickr stream.

10 comments:

Anna L. Conti said...

I love these trees! they're Chorisia Speciosa - also known as Floss Silk Trees. I first saw them in Los Angeles - there's an old one near the courthouse, and some smaller ones on the hillside by the Angel's Flight railway. I have some photos of them on my Flickr page. The Angel's Flight trees are always filled with parrots, too.

Beatrice M said...

I never saw them in the USA before, or rather, I never noticed them. They're so different and interesting. I find it fascinating that parrots in LA eat the seeds out of the cotton fruit pods as well. I know on the one hand that it makes sense for animals to do the same thing all over the world, at yet at the same time, it just boggles my mind. Thanks for pointing out your photos on flickr and the species name. I've updated my tags on Flickr. I'd seen the articles on Wikipedia about the Floss Silk Trees, but still in my mind they'll always be Palos Borrachos.

Katie said...

Great photos and informative article about these trees! I had first seen them in the Jardín Botánico in Buenos Aires (a specimen with spikes), so when I later saw them in Plaza San Martín without spikes and the puffy cotton, I didn't realize what they were! I did a little research and found out later more about this interesting tree. I have never seen them in bloom though. Keep up the good work!

wembley said...

What a brilliant idea, there are so many truly impressive trees in BA. The magnolias, enormous, wow they are incredible. Lots of others too. I'm looking forward to reading more blog entries so keep them coming.

wembley said...

Great blog, keep the entries coming!

Beatrice M said...

Thank you Katie and wembley!

David said...

hiya nice blog the white flowered silk floss trees are actually a different tree than the pink ones. different species of the same genus. pink=Chorisia speciosa. white=Chorisia insignis

thee best tree of the family is Ceiba pentandra whiich barely has a flower but used to be grown in plantations for the silk floss that in the old days was used as filler in all those orange-red life preservers, in pillows and couches. i buy kapok as its called on the web and make my own bed pillows from the cottony floss. it makes a much better pillow then foam, feather or down. it is too bad modern foamy materials have sort of wiped out its market. its the most spectacular of trees with huge wavy buttress coming out from the trunk. i dont know how too post a picture here but i do have some if you write. murbach@aol.com thx david

Beatrice M said...

Thanks David! I recently did learn that they are different species and I found a white one in Parque Centenario that I want to take photos of. Interesting to know that the filler was really useful at one point.

David said...

a large white flowered Chorisia insignis is in front of the huge crumbling brick engineering school building on Las Heras i think thats at Azcuenaga or one block over

Alicia said...

ADORO EL PALO BORRACHO UNA AMIGA DE MONTEVIDEO TENIA UNO EL MAS GRANDE QUE CONOZCO....
CUANDO LAS FLORES LLENAN EL SUELO......DIVINO....
ES UN POCO SUCIO PERO HERMOSO.
SALUDITOS

Post a Comment