Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Travelers who visit the Nossa Senhora de Conceição Cathedral in Santarém are always impressed with the very distinguished trees on the other side of the street. They, no more than a dozen of them, have that look of being very old and something you might expect to find on the banks of the Amazon River. I could never find anyone who knew the name of trees, so likewise, I could never answer the inevitable question from clients, "What kind of a tree is that?" I didn't stay awake at night pondering the issue, but from time to time I would ask locals about the trees. One day someone told me that they were Benjaminas. Darn it! I should have figured that out long ago. They are fig trees, Ficus benjamina, which is an exotic from somewhere in Asia. As described in a blog post last month, the tree is a favorite for planting on the streets of Manaus and Santarém because it provides lots of shade and it's a "clean" tree, meaning that it doesn't shed its leaves profusely like most of the other species. It also has dense foliage, which makes it a natural for pruning into artistic shapes. Now there are lots of these fig trees around Santarém but I never saw them equal to the ones in front of the cathedral. I can only assume that these are much older.