Saturday, August 17, 2013

Boozy Branches

All thorns, bellies, and jutting elbows, silk floss trees (Ceiba speciosa) are starkly different from season to season. Here, in August and September, they flame lush with hand-sized blossoms either neon pink or satiny white. After they bloom, the trees are barren save for large seed pods like that hang like oversized avocados from the trees, eventually splitting open to release silken fibers, sometimes attached to seeds.

But I just came back from the southern hemisphere, where it is winter, and in an Argentine climate much wetter than my own home climate but close in temperature ranges, the now-barren silk floss trees grow abundantly along nearly every important boulevard in Buenos Aires and Rosario. With more water, the trees have more pronounced bellies and exaggerated limbs. In fact, the Argentines have a better name for them that we have in the US: Palo Barracho, drunken stick.

A palo barracho between a restaurant and the ParanĂ¡ River, in Santa Fe, Argentina.

Palos barrachos line the streets near the ports on the ParanĂ¡ in Rosario, Argentina.

The trees are covered with large, exaggerated thorns.

I loved this strip of road protected for those learning to drive, complete with all sorts of road signs. Palos barrachos provide shade during the summer and architectural interest in the winter. Notice the large, hanging seed pods.

A palo barracho on a main street in Rosario, Argentina demonstrating my favorite aspect of these trees: personality.

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