Meet me under the Ombú tree

 

“They say that sorrow and at last ruin comes upon the house on whose roof the shadow of the Ombú tree falls; and on that house which now is not, the shadow of this tree came every summer day when the sun was low. They say, too, that those who sit much in the Ombú shade become crazed. Perhaps, sir, the bone of my skull is thicker than in most men, since I have been accustomed to sit here all my life, and though now an old man I have not yet lost my reason. It is true that evil fortune came to the old house in the end; but into every door sorrow must enter—sorrow and death that comes to all men; and every house must fall at last”.

Tales of the Pampas,W. H. Hudson, Argentina 1916

Buenos Aires has glorious trees, many native to Argentina and the Pampa, but perhaps none more characteristic than the Ombú, a massively buttressed trunk of a rubber tree, often referred here as Gran Gomero, ‘big rubber’. They’re indigenous to South America and the only tree that naturally occurs in the Pampas.

I clocked a couple of my favourite Ombús on my Sunday morning walk, the first over on Plaza San Martin, in front of the Kavanagh skyscraper – a vast sprawling beast with flying buttresses a metre and half in circumference and so large they’ve landed many metres away, supported by metal struts anchored in the pavement. The other Ombú over in Plaza Roma has a tangled mound of enormous twisted roots that push the tree Jungle Book-like into the sky whilst surrounded by an urban jungle equivalent.

 

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