We are approaching the end of May, a very pleasant month in Venezuela because the first rains of the rainy season fall, erroneously named by the farmers as “the first spring rains”. These first rains come to refresh the thirsty lands that, after a long dry season, the trees are cut and burned for sowing. With the “spring rains” new shoots arrive to the trees, and the flowers show their bright colors of “spring”, attracting with them the bees that pollinate them and the birds that look for the sweet nectar.
In May, the fruits of the time, especially mangoes, mature and offer their sweet pulps to satisfy the palates of children, young and old alike. Children are the ones who most enjoy these first months of the rainy season, which covers the months of April, May and June, due to the arrival of the mangoes, a native fruit that everyone expects in order to please the palate.
But it is not the rains I want to talk about, neither the crops, nor the mangos, nor the hunger they satisfy, but the tree known as Araguaney, El Árbol Nacional, representative of the Venezuelan flora.
The Araguaney, belonging to the chrisantha species, a word composed of two words meaning “flower of gold”, is scattered throughout the country’s geography. Its scientific name Tabebuia is of indigenous origin. Also the Araguaney term originates in the Caribbean voice “aravanei” which was how the ethnic group knew this tree. Between the months of May and April, it unfolds its beautiful and ephemeral yellow flowers giving it, for a very short time, to the plains, hills, meadows, roads, streets and parks of Venezuela a cheerful and festive atmosphere.
This beautiful tree that reaches a height of 6 to 12 meters high, turns 70 years as the National Tree of Venezuela. It was declared a National Tree of Venezuela through a decree issued by the then president Rómulo Gallegos, on May 29, 1948.
Note: The author of the photographs that illustrate this article is my friend and colleague, Arturo Granado, cultural promoter and amateur photographer. The trees are in the adjacencies of his house, in the town of “Cocolí” in Río Caribe, municipality of Arismendi de Esatado Sucre, where we have residence.