Found abundantly throughout the country, the flower of the erythrina crista-galli, cockspur coral tree or ceibo as it is commonly known in Spanish is the Argentina national flower. Its dramatic red coloring and profuse blooms make it one of the most striking varieties of flowering coral trees and, if visiting Argentina during the correct season, you are likely to see it in parks in the northern cities.
The Argentina national flower
Cockspur coral tree, cock’s comb, cry-baby tree, cock’s comb, common coral tree, ceibo, seibo.
The cockspur coral tree has played an important role in Argentine poetry, legends and folklore. One of the most famous is the story of Anahí, a young indigenous woman who was captured by the Spanish conquistadores and when trying to escape, killed her captor. Despite fleeing into the forest, she was discovered and punished for her act by being tied to a tree and burned alive.
When the men returned for her body, they discovered a cockspur coral tree in its place. The legend claims that the gleaming leaves and velvety red flowers of this tree had replaced her body and now stood as a symbol of bravery and strength in the face of suffering.
Importance in Argentina
On December 2, 1942, the ceibo was declared the Argentina national flower, recognizing its role in Argentine cultural heritage as well as its prevalence throughout the north of the country, where it is found in places ranging from Salta in the northwest to Santa Fe and Buenos Aires in the east. The flowers of the ceibo tree are also now celebrated annually on November 22 with the National Day of the Flower.
- The cockspur coral tree is a small tree that can grow up to 33 ft. (10m) in height at maturity.
- Its flowers are made up of five, flaming carmine-colored petals in a shape similar to the crest of a chicken, which bloom in clusters.
- These flowers are rich in nectar and are pollinated by both insects and hummingbirds.
- The cockspur coral tree flowers from October to April, making this the best time to see its startling red blooms in all their glory.
Where to see it
The Argentina national flower grows in tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, including in neighboring Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay. It is found along watercourses, swamps and other areas with fertile, well-drained soil and its small size and ornamental value have made it a popular tree to be planted in urban areas such as parks and other green spaces.
For those visiting Buenos Aires, Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur, a 350-hectare nature reserve on the banks of Rio de la Plata River, is home to a number of these trees, along with other native tree and plant species.
Other interesting species of native Argentine flora
Jacaranda tree (jacaranda mimosifolia): perhaps the quintessential Argentine tree, the jacaranda is recognizable thanks to its stunning purple blooms that open in spring. This tree is native to subtropical parts of South America and is found lining the main streets of Buenos Aires as well as other urban areas across Argentina.
Steel Flower (floralis generic): So this isn’t a real flower, but it’s a memorable example of Argentina’s love of blooms – real or otherwise. This incredible steel structure that is located in Plaza de las Naciones Unidas (a short distance from Recoleta Cemetery) actually behaves like a flower; during the day, the enormous 104 ft. (32m) petals open, and at night, they close again.
At 75 ft. (23m) high and weighing 18 tons (180,000 kg), the floralis generic is definitely one of Argentina’s most remarkable native “flowers”!