Signs for the Ruta de las Flores (Route of the Flowers) become prominent on the highway from the time you leave San Salvador’s airport. This 36 km route between Sonsonate and Ahuachapan winds through the mountains and small villages. Varied flowers grow wild along the road and paths to the waterfalls. The village of Ataco itself is worth seeing along the way where many houses are colorfully painted.
Abundant and colorful flowers grow throughout El Salvador due to its tropical location. Types vary depending on altitude, season, and soil conditions. It is always fun to try to label them. Bird of paradise is my favorite with the angel’s trumpet as a close second. Heliconias and red and yellow hibiscus are easy to identify. Some flowers are more unusual and I refer to my book on tropical flowers or consult a professional horticulturist when truly stumped on the difficult ones like the yellow solanum mammosum. It’s always a treat to see poincettias growing as tall as trees when I’m only used to seeing them in pots at Christmas. Others such as a large bed of yellow daisies simply pop up near volcano beds along the highway.
Salvadorans cleverly use their flowers such as the fragile-looking vining magenta and pink bougainvillea to disguise the razor-wire concertina security topped fences on their properties. They use their national flower, the white izote (from a yucca plant), to flavor foods. Bouquets of a variety of tropical flowers adorn church altars and graves of cemeteries, particularly on All Saints Day. The guesthouse owner snips a simple gathering of colorful flowers from the outside garden to fill a vase before a meal and completely transforms the table.
Some towns such as Alegria are known for their small plant nurseries. Women carry their plants in buckets on their heads to transport from one nursery to another before they ship elsewhere.
Public gardens display a wide range of the country’s plants, trees, and flowers. One we visited was the site of a collapsed volcano cone.
Enjoy the beautiful flowers of El Salvador and click on this link: