Aromos mean SPRING!

Happy September! It’s Chile’s favorite month—for many reasons. Spring is on its way! The Independence Day holidays will soon be here and signs of Bicentennial Pride are already appearing, but perhaps best of all is the return of color!

Aromos on Route 68, Chile

Aromos bloom in early spring along Route 68, between Santiago and the coast.

Chile has a Mediterranean climate, which means a wonderfully long, hot, dry summer, but then we get the bill—3 or 4 months of drab, smoggy, rainy, and black- white-and-shades-of-gray winter. But get through August and everything changes (see Ya Pasamos Agosto)… and the first sign that winter is finally on its way out are the aromos in bloom.

Aromos in bloom, spring (late August) 2010 (M Snook)

Aromos lend bright bursts of yellow to the Chilean countryside. These craggy, thorny, bushy trees sport yellow blooms that liven up the landscape and display their full glory in late August and throughout September.

Aromo flowers in bloom, late August 2010 (photo M Snook for Cachando Chile)I paid extra special attention this past weekend as we drove to the coast. I wanted to get some pictures of aromos in bloom (albeit with a digital point and shoot). It turns out that not all aromos are the same!

Aromos are not native to the Americas, but rather arrived with the Spanish from Mediterranean climes. In Spain they are called mimosas (Latin name Acacia farnesiana) and are found throughout southern South America. It also seems that Chile has developed its own version (Acacia caven), which is the same thorny critter called aromo criollo or espino or espinillo negro that appears in much of the country, from Coquimbo to Concepción, and is used not only as a natural property line (no person or animal wants to do battle with its long, sharp thorns), but is also used to produce charcoal. (See NOTE below)

It seems that some aromos are brighter yellow than others. I believe (and hope someone will confirm or correct me) that the Spanish mimosa-style aromos are brighter and have showier clusters of pom-pom-shaped flowers, while the Chilean espino-version is a bit more sedate (as is the Chilean way) with more mustard-colored pom-pom-ettes.

Bright yellow and orange jonquils bloom in late August

Bright yellow and orange jonquils bloom in late August

I also noticed that aromos are not the only flowers out and about these days, and while yes, there are pink and white fruit trees to be spotted, alas, I am ignorant of their identifying characteristics and would have to wholly rely on Wiki-something to tell you what they were… so I won’t… but I will tell you that I was very impressed by the very yellow and green canvas the landscape painted this weekend.

Green, green the grasses grow (I know that’s not how the song goes, but honestly, I haven’t seen any rushes lately)… the winter rains have left the hillsides lush with greenery, and the warmth of spring has added layers and nuances of yellow that remind us that the sun is soon to return and keep us company from now til March or April.

NOTE: After publishing this, some questions arose in the comments section about whether or not the aromo criollo is the same as espino–and now I’m trying to get verification–anyone know?  I will update this as soon as I have some  definitive info


20 responses to “Aromos mean SPRING!

  1. Me encanta sentir el olor de los aromos en días cuando corre biento.
    Y eh, eso de las diferencias entre aromos es cierto. Hay unos que tienen las flores más grandes y algo más pálidas que los aromos simples amarillo brillante.

    Aunque nunca hubiera descubierto que los espinos eran una clase de Aromo también.

    No se si has notado, pero MONTONES de árboles han florecido en este último tiempo. De cerezos a otros que ni los nombres se… por lo menos ya se vienen los tiempos bonitos! Ya estábamos hartos del frío!

  2. *viento, no biento.

  3. Spring in Chile-it is the very best season in my mind! so much will be blooming soon,

  4. @Paloma- when I was looking for info on aromos (I confess, I did NOT know the Latin name by heart!) I kept reading about he smell and realized that I don’t know how they smell! I usually see them as I whizz by in a car and didn’t notice the smell when I took the pictures the other day (yes, I DID get out of the car to do that!)… Maybe some are more aromatic than others?
    And yes, I DID notice that many, many flowers are in bloom right now, but it especially blew my mind how many are YELLOW!
    There’s another flower that grows on stalks (not a tree) that has a small bright yellow flower that I saw a lot especially near the coast. And the “dedales de oro” are starting to bloom now too! But the ones I saw were still closed up tight and didn’t make for good pictures.

  5. Aromos son muy lindos, pero mis favoritos son las Buganvilias. Se ven muchas en el camino a Valparaiso. Aqui hay mas fotos

  6. Sí, las bougainvilleas son hermosísimas! Pero comienzan más tarde–no estoy segura del mes–voy a tener que estar más atenta!

  7. Paloma- me quedé pensando en tu comentario sobre si los aromos son espinos–y es muy posible que tengas toda la razon–. Cuando buscaba información sobre “Acacia cavenencontré en Wikipedia que “el espinillo, aromo, espino o churqui, es un árbol o arbusto de hoja caduca de la familia Fabaceae, presente en Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay y el sur de Brasil”. Luego, buscano sobre “espino“, da otro nombre latin, no de los acacias, sino de Crataegus monogyna, lo que dice es espino blanco. Entonces… lo que entendemos por “espino” en Chile es probablemente este otro y no el aromo.
    ¿Alguien sabe por seguro?

  8. Thank you Matgaret for a lovely post.
    Here in UK, we are at the end of summer and autumn is well on the way. Temperatures drop once the sun sets, the light has changed with the lowering of the sun in the sky, leaves are turning gold and fruits are appearing in the hedges. I love autumn despite knowing the winter approaches.
    Although I visit Chile about twice a year and know, logically, that our seasons are reversed, it is always something of a surprise to have it confirmed and the thought that spring is coming in the southern hemisphere is somehow reassuring. It is as if to know that, although my country is going to sleep through the winter, light and heat and greenery continues elsewhere and life goes on. It is also good to know that next time I am in Chile (in October), I can look forward to being warm!

  9. Claudio would know about the aromos, in fact, one blooms before the other, and we saw lots of that one out at the beach about a month ago. I’ll see what I can find out. He’s my go-to plant guy.

  10. Hi Jack- I also love autumn, especially in the northern hemisphere, where the seasons are more clearly defined. I also love winter there with all the cold and snow, but it’s a bit drearier here, especially in Santiago, which is very smoggy in winter. I always like to travel during winter to get a nice dose of sunshine and warmth… the switch between spring and fall isn’t nearly as dramatic! But we should have the country all spiffed and full of pretty colors by the time you get here!

  11. Eileen- That would be great if Claudio would add his 2 pesos’ worth on this… and BTW- would you be willing to share him? I need a go-to-plant-guy too (everyone should have one, don’t you think? 😉

  12. Hola Margaret!!! yo de nuevo , de árboles y plantas no se mucho pero me complica la primavera por mis alergias , pero en este mes de la patria quiero brindar ,por la primavera y por la amistad ; En este día tan especial
    A todas las Margaret hay que celebrar!!! Y que suene la guitarra y que suene el acordeon .Que salgan a la cancha los valientes de este blog ,esta es la invitación, escríbanse unas payas .Y en este 18 Póngale harto pino y empeño ,pero chicos, tengan cuidado con el pipeño.
    Qué tengan una buenas fiestas patrias y celebren el Bicentenario como corresponde a los de aquí y a los de allá ,que cada vez son más de por acá!!!!
    Te dejo este link del nuevo diccionario de la Academia Chilena de la Lengua y que ya está en las librerías , de esas palabras que tanto te gustan…Feliz 18 y viva Chile Mier…..!!!!!!!4fef5fDtt0b1/

  13. Hola Nano-
    ¡Te pasaste! voy a buscar ese libro de inmediato!! (ya cachas bien mis intereses!)
    Y es taaan cierto que este es un mes muy especial… el septiembre más especial de todos por los 200 años de la patria!
    Y parece que leiste mi pauta del mes porque por SUPUESTO vamos a hablar de todas esas cosas!! Espero ser bien prolífica este mes (y cuando no lo soy es por demandas de pega nomás!)
    Espero que sigues con tu excelente input este mes también!
    Feliz, feliz y tiqui tiqui chiqullos!

  14. Hi,
    It seems strange reading your post that you are only just looking forward to spring while we are now approaching autumn.
    We have several different types of Mimosas here in Portugal. I love these trees and are lucky to have four trees in our garden. We have two varieties of Mimosa (but there are several more) and the shape of the trees and flowers are totally different. I love the way the yellow flowers herald the arrival of spring 🙂 …but I don’t like the “mess” when the flowers fall onto the brita! 😦 but they are beautiful to look at!
    Are the leaves of the Mimosas in Chile “feathery” almost fernlike?

    The one thing I miss from the UK in Spring are the daffodils…I have tried to grow them here…but nada!


  15. Hi- yes, the seasonal turnaround always gets me, even after all these years!
    I have never seen these trees in anyone’s yard (so no mess), only growing wild in the countryside–and they are very, very abundant!
    Yes, the leaves are rather fernlike- you can see them in the 3rd photo. Does that look like your mimosas?
    I haven’t seen daffodils here either, which is why I was so surprised to see these jonquils the other day. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve even seen tulips in anyone’s yards here- only at flower shops.

  16. Margaret, I do not know much about botany, but I have heard that the second kind of aromo (not the mimosa), came from Australia.

  17. Hi- I just checked both by Latin name and the first one (Acacia farnesiana) can be found in Australia, but doesn’t seem to have originated there. the second (Acacia caven) appears to be pretty much restricted to the Southern Cone and it does say it’s used for fences and firewood and charcoal making (which makes me think it might be the same as our “espino”?)
    There is just so much to learn!! Guess I’ll have to invest in some books on Chilean plants!

  18. Has to be noted that Acacia farnesiana is NOT a native specie, so we should be careful in identifying it as part of the biocultural landscape of Central Chile.
    Moreover Acacia farnesiana is considered an invasive specie that has changed the plant- animal interactions. While Acacia caven is native from central Chile.

  19. Ni idea sobre la polemica espino/aromo, pero gracias por poner estas fotos!

  20. Hola Pilar–Me alegro que te sirvieron las fotos. Espero que lograste celebrar el 18! Sé que es complicado pasar estas fechas tan lejos.

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