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.

December 9, 2008

Purple and Green spring

Purple and Green spring, originally uploaded by blmurch.

Springtime has arrived to Buenos Aires. The trees have come alive, the birds are full of energy and vigor and the sun shines brightly. The streets are lined with full trees casting cooling shadows on the sidewalks.

The Ceibo tree, the national tree of Argentina (and Uruguay), bursts forth with red flowers, adding a splash of color to the gnarled and knotted brown branches. The peeling european Plane trees arch tall over the avenues, the spring wind sending their fluffy seeds flying through the air to land on the ground below. The dark and light Tipa trees drip on the unsuspecting people walking the boulevards underneath. The purple Jacarandas brighten the parks, plazas and streets as parrots flit and cry between them. The thorny Palo Borracho trees' seed pods burst white cotton buds from their budding branches. The expansive Rubber trees grow so large their heavy branches need to be propped up by posts. The Mimosa trees fan their pink flowers out over their delicate and sensitive green leaves. The Poplar trees and the Eucalyptus trees dot the expansive Palermo Bosques.

The trees of Buenos Aires give life to the city. Most of the greenery is due to Carlos Thays' work in the late 1800s. He designed the Jardin Botanico, the Bosques de Palermo, and many of the important Plazas: San Martin, Congreso, Mayo, ConstitutiĆ³n, Lezama among others. He is responsible for the large tree-lined avenues which I love so much. The Tipa and Plane trees arch over the grand boulevards and avenues and provide much appreciated shade in the spring and summer.

This blog will explore the beauty, the history, the legends and the life cycles of the trees of Buenos Aires. I hope you enjoy the posts and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.