Friday, October 21, 2011

Today's word harvest: three new trees

Sapo game

Today we crossed the Rosario-Victoria bridge (long bridge over the Paraná river, longer causeway across the wetlands) to Estancia "El Cerrito" for asado (barbeque), a folklore show (with audience participation dancing at the end), some fierce games of sapo (coin toss with a bronze toad's gaping maw as target) and lots of lazing around in the sun or shade, depending on preference.

And I learned three new trees today: Ceibo, Ombú, and Paraíso (Paradise). Trees I'd read about--the first two, anyway--but hadn't seen or identified. Our friendly hostess shared a number of other plant names with me, but I can evidently retain only a few at a time. I learned the Palo Borracho's name the other day, though I'd been taking pictures of it for a while. The trunk looks swollen (source of borracho--drunk?), with thick spines, then nips in almost as if collared before the branches spread, but the fiber inside the seedpods is incredibly fine and silky.

Ceibo-- Argentina's national flower

Paraíso. Kids call the seeds--loose skins, hard pits--
"venenitos" (that is, poison). They're popular,
and painful, additions to Carnival water balloons.

Palo borracho

Palo borracho seed pod

I also saw tantalizingly varied birds out the bus window: Lots of herons, but also one that looked like a long-beaked storks. Huge, fat raptors of some kind, eagle-sized, some flying, some perched, some waddling. With a kind of crest on the head, I think. But, of course, traveling too fast to be sure. Will have to try to get closer another time. Unidentified birds, plenty of cattle, lots of sunshine. My eyes are still prickling a little from the glare.

Trust me. Birds abound.

As do cattle.


  1. I think I could spend a lifetime learning to identify all the different plants and critters I run across here in Argentina! I particularly like the palo borracho with its cottony seed pods. My friend Beatrice has a nice blog about the trees of Buenos Aires, many of which are found in other parts of Argentina:

  2. Thanks for sharing the link, Katie! Beatrice's blog has some lovely photos--including the palo borracho flower, which I haven't seen "in person" (though I heard quite a bit about how slippery the flowers can make the sidewalk after a rain).

  3. Palo borracho flowers are quite pretty. I hope you have the opportunity to admire them in person.

    I'm glad you enjoyed Beatrice's blog. She's a professional photographer, which explains why her photos are so lovely! :)

  4. I love reading your blog because I love how you use language. You are truly a master of choosing the most evocative words... This is even more apparent to me when I see your photos.

  5. One summer in the bookcase of the old house we rented in Nova Scotia I found a field guide to plants and went pacing about in the briars and nettles and was surprised what a fine time I had.

  6. A rewarding briar patch, a chortle of nettles-- your mention of the old house in Nova Scotia reminds me of the family friends' cabin in Maine (off Maine) we visited one summer, though I wasn't reading tree books then.