December 13, 2017

The aroma of Tilos

As you walk through the streets of Buenos Aires, in the spring months of November and into December, every once in a while you will get a whiff of something beautifully aromatic. The smell is sweet and makes you think of perfume and carefree afternoons in the park. This smell is ephemeral and difficult to track down. But, if you look at the nearby trees as you pass you might notice tiny yellow-white flowers, hidden underneath the leaves. You have to look at the tree from underneath to get the full effect and to discover where this heady aroma is coming from. This can be somewhat difficult as the Tilo trees can get grow up to 40 meters tall! Normally they are between 20 and 40 meters tall, and they can live to be 500 years old.

While these flowers are heady and aromatic and the bees love them, interestingly this is not how they propagate. They spread out via their root system, which can be quite problematic for the sidewalks of Buenos Aires, and most notably, the nearby city of La Plata, where these trees dominate the landscape so much, the city is known as Tilo City.

These beautiful trees provide wonderful shade in the summer as you walk down the streets due to their large leaves. They are mostly planted in the sidewalks and not so much in the plazas.

They also provide medicinal benefits via the wood, leaves, flowers, and fruits. Tilo is a common tea you can buy here in Argentina and is mostly used to relax.

In English, the tree is mostly known as linden, but also Tilia and Lime tree, although it has nothing to do with the lime fruit.

As always with the trees in Buenos Aires, don't forget to look up, you just might be surprised by what you find.

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