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!
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 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.
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.
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