The Palo Borracho’s (drunken sticks) are all blooming now. This Ceiba Speciosa is a tropical tree native to South America and often seen in the streets of Buenos Aires. Just like the Jacarandas announce the beginning of spring, the Silk Floss tree, as it is also called, announces autumn. It is said that when the last pink flower drops, winter starts. Now we are evidently still in mid-autumn.
The trunk is bottle shaped and has conical prickles which store water for dry times. The flowers are about 10-15 cm in diameter and are whitish-pink.
Just like the national tree, the Ceibo, there is a legend to this one, which originated in the north around the rio Pilcomayo. There they call this tree the ‘woman’ or ‘mother who sticks to the earth’.
Once upon a time, in an antique tribe that lived in the forest, there was a very beautiful girl whom all the men were in love with and wanted her as their wife, but she was in love with a man who was a great warrior. When he had to go to war, he made her promise she would be faithful to him and wait for his return. She waited for many months, and when it looked like he was not to return, she went deep into the forest to die of grief.
Hunters found her there and wanted to bring her to the village, but when they lifted her, they noticed that out of her arms grew branches, her head was becoming a trunk and out of her fingers grew white flowers. The hunters ran to the village where they told the story, and when they went back a couple of days later to see her again, the girl was gone and she had completely changed into a tree. The white flowers had changed into pink. The legend says the white stand for her tears for her lost love, and they turned pink because of the blood of her lost warrior.