January 25, 2009

Ibirá Pitá on Lavalle

Ibirá Pitá on Lavalle, originally uploaded by blmurch.

There are some beautiful trees here that I have only recently noticed and think of as Yellow Jacarandas. I have seen them line 9 de Julio and I ran into them as I turned the corner onto Lavalle from Callao this past week. Their leaves are feather-like, as are the purple Jacarandas, but they are much taller, their flowers are yellow and are currently in bloom.

As I didn't know what they were, I looked in the database of trees that is maintained by the city of Buenos Aires. You can look trees up by the address of the street, or by the characteristics of the tree. This service is not something I would expect here, but am so very glad it exists. It has its quirks and bugs, but what doesn't? I knew that the trees were at Lavalle and Callao; I was able to find out that that is the 1800 block of Lavalle. Then I plugged that address into the database and it gave me a list of various trees on that block of Lavalle. I clicked through and finally found the tree. They are called Ibirá Pitá, and the official name is Peltophorum dubium. According to wikipedia, in Uruguay they are called arbol de Artigas and in Brazil they are called Cana fístula.

These trees are similar to the Tipa trees in that they are tall, shady and have yellow flowers, but the branches, leaves and flowers are all very different. Like the Jacarandas and the Palo Borrachos and the Tipas, the Ibirá Pitás are native to Argentina. They can also be found in Paraguay, Brazil and Urugay. Specifically in Argentina, they are from the northern provinces of Tucumán, Salta and Jujuy. These provinces' biomes range from high desert to humid jungle. The trees grow on the riverbanks to get much-needed water. Had I not seen them in bloom, I would have thought them to be the purple Jacarandas that are all over the city. Now, I know better.

January 18, 2009

Shady Summer

Walking in the park, originally uploaded by blmurch.

Buenos Aires is a walker's delight. The city is mostly flat, the public transportation is better than average and you can easily stroll from one plaza to the next. However, the trees are the best part. They are not just plentiful and beautiful, they also are really handy in the summer, providing much needed shade. Summers here are hot and humid. People walk slowly and wear very little. There is very little "striding" and much more "ambling". Also, in the heat of the day, people tend to walk on the shady side of the street to beat some of the summer heat. The Plane and Tipa trees arch over the streets and avenues, reminiscent of high cathedral ceilings. The branches, leaves and the thick trunks of the trees play with the light and shadows on the ground, not quite like stained glass windows, but close. As the sun falls to the west in the late afternoons, the temperatures drop ever so slightly and the shadows lengthen providing much needed respite from the heat and the sun's glare.