The Legend of the Ceibo Tree

(Photo by Karen Blix)

The Ceibo is both the national tree and flower of Argentina. It is very resistant to both ice and fire and it has inspired tangos, poetry and folklore music as a symbol of courage and strength in the face of adversity.

According to legend, there was once an indigenous woman named Anahí who lived on the shores of the Paraná River. She was small and unsightly, however, her looks were forgotten on summer nights when she came to sing with her beautiful voice to her tribe about their gods and the love of their land.

When the conquistadors came to conquer the land, they took Anahí and others from her tribe as prisoners. One night, the guard of her cell fell asleep and Anahí saw a chance of escaping. The guard, however, woke up just as she was getting away and so she stabbed him. His dying holler startled the rest of the soldiers and Anahí was unable to escape. Her punishment for killing the man was to burn at the stake.

On the night of her sentence, she was tied to a tree and a fire was lit. The flames quickly caught on and the indigenous woman began to sing to her land and her nature.

The following morning, the soldiers stood astounded at the spot of her death. In place of the ashes they had expected to find, there was a blooming Ceibo tree showing off its splendorous red flowers.

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