When time and funding permit, each flower (each plant species) will have its own page, and its own PDF, and eventually its own PPT so that professors and students have plenty of material on Guatemala (and Honduras, etc) to study.

Heliconia, Guatemala, FLAAR Mayan ethnobotanical garden, Jun 1, 2017, by Nicholas Hellmuth

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we have recently found and photographed.

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Maize, beans, and squash! Was this, or was this not, the heart of the Mayan diet for thousands of years.

Posted Nov 3, 2017

maize-beans-squash-Senahu-corn-beans-Mayan-foods-diet-0698-FLAAR

As a student in the 1960’s, most textbooks on the Maya featured maize, beans, and squash in their diet of Mayan foods. Then in 1966 Bronson suggested root crops were crucial to the diet, and several years later Dennis Puleston suggested ramon nuts were equally important.

I have been interested in edible foods of the Mayan people for decades and we now have a list of several hundred edible native food plants of the Mayan people: including edible flowers, edible plant stems, edible leaves, and literally hundreds of edible fruits.

Still, if you enter a Mayan house in a remote area, or if you hike through a milpa in a remote area, what plants to you actually find???

We will continue to work on this project and already have uncovered lots of great information, documented with high resolution photos (we hope you like our photo by Dr Nicholas of the maize, beans and squash that was arranged by Maria Josefina Sequen, one of our helpful Kakchiquel Mayan student interns). She is also an illustrator for www.MayanToons.org.

 


 

 

Happy Halloween 2017

Posted October 31, 2017

Halloween Mayan Toons FLAAR-Reports

Ilustration by Valeria Avilés

The bright orange pumpkins popular across USA for family Halloween decoration is a kind of squash.

Several squash were native to the Maya, Teotihuacan and Aztec areas of Mesoamerica (Central Mexico down to Costa Rica). But the pumpkin of today is descended from what grew thousands of years ago across what eventually became the USA.

In Guatemala we study lots of sizes, shapes, and colors of squash which are native to Mexico and Guatemala. But the traditional Halloween squash is the large and orange (and tastes yummy in pie or soup).

Here in Guatemala I love pepitorio, the seeds of one variety of native squash which is grown near Sayaxche, Peten (and other places in Guatemala). Roast & toast on a skillet for a few seconds, and great taste and very healthy also.

Halloween FLAAR staff office Oct 31 2017 EF 7-web

We usually don't dress for halloween but this year we decided to use Tim Burton's movies as inspiration for our costumes.

 


 

 

Guadalajara International Book Fair
Feria Internacional del Libro (FIL)

Posted September 28, 2017

The Guadalajara International Book Fair is one of the best in the world, comparable with Frankfurt Book Fair.

Last year Dr Nicholas and graphic designer Lucia Brolo (FLAAR and MayanToons) visited FIL 2016. It was such a great event we are considering to send three to FIL 2017 (Dr Nicholas, Senaida Ba and another of our team of graphic designers for children’s books, www.MayanToons.org).

If you want to see books from publishers in Mexico, Central America, South America, USA, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Korea (and lots more countries) be sure to book a flight to Guadalajara for FIL 2017.

 


 

 

New heliconia, now identified

Updated Sept 11, 2017; Posted June 18, 2017

Heliconia-unknown-species-Ranchitos-del-quetzal-1827

Specimen photographed in Ranchitos del Quetzal, Peten. Photo by Nicholas Hellmuth, Nikon D810 on a Gitzo tripod.

We continue working on improving the lists of Heliconias of Guatemala published by eminent botanists. Not one of these lists is consistent with other lists in other botanical monographs (because the authors were not in each eco-system of Guatemala: we have found two species of wild Heliconia even in the bosque seco parallel to the Rio de los Esclavos).

The Heliconia pictured here is in the impressive garden of Ranchitos del Quetzal, near the Quetzal preserve in Alta Verapaz (directly alongside the main highway towards Coban, CA-14, km 160.5). We photographed this in June and hope to identify its species or variety soon. We also strive to learn whether it is native in nearby areas of Alta Verapaz.

In August Elena Siekavizza was able to identify this as Heliconia adflexa. Then two weeks later Senada Ba spotted the same species up on a hill as we were driving through a remote part of Baja Verapaz. We found out who owned the property and went to ask permission to take photographs; permission was graciously provided.

Heliconia leaves (of other Guatemalan species) are used to wrap tamales. Heliconia leaves of other species are used to thatch Q’eqchi’ Mayan houses in remote areas: we have found two houses thatched with platanillo so far.

It is a challenge to identify atypical heliconia plants since the nice monograph Heliconia an Identification Guide (by Fred Berry and W. John Kress, 1991), is almost three decades out of date. And, as typical of all monographs on Heliconia, is not focused on wild heliconia of Guatemala. Most of the popular books on Heliconia are on garden varieties. Our interest is to encourage growing wild species so their wild DNA can continue.

 


 

 

We are preparing educational material to help Mayan families learn ABCs

Posted Sept. 4, 2017

Our Mayan assistants know plants which are not in textbooks on Mayan agriculture. Our Q’eqchi’ Mayan assistants are writing articles which have information missing from peer-reviewed journals by university professors in USA and Europe.

In remote mountain villages, the kids there are capable of all this, but often the school is a 4-hour hike back-and-forth (not only no school bus, not 4WD pickup available either).

ABC with seeds by Erick Jul 13-14 17 2017 EF 3726 ABC with seeds by Erick Jul 13-14 17 2017 EF 3712

Here is A written with avocados.

Here is Z written with zapotes.



Our goal is to have ABC books and also animated videos (so people can watch them on their mobile phones).

We will use local plants to form each letter of all the ABCs.

We have initiated a series of programs to help education of children in remote areas.

ABC with seeds spelled Jul 17-19 2017 NH-3870

In addition to A, B, C…W, X, Y, Z we will also of course spell out entire words.

Once funding is available, we will also indicate which vitamins, minerals, and other healthy proteins are in each natural food.

This way we can help parents (and grandparents) learn about vitamins, minerals, and food values, in addition to learning how to read.

We can also do these educational concepts in the local Mayan languages, such as Q’eqchi’, Pokomchi, Kaqchiquel and of course we would want to do all the languages of Guatemala.

We welcome contacts with companies, foundations, and individuals who would like to help us: FrontDesk “at” FLAAR dot ORG

 


 

 

Lots of beautiful flowers, including orchids, along the roadsides of Guatemala

Posted Sept. 1, 2017

Epidendrum-radicans-Orchid-Senahu-Tucuru-roadside-9259

Driving the back road between Senahu to Tucuru you find lots of orchids. All of Alta Verapaz is moist and most is hills and mountains and rivers. So lots of eco-systems for orchids.

Although we tend to associate orchids with trees, actually there are terrestrial orchids also in Guatemala (precisely along the sides of roads in Alta Verapaz and many areas of the Highlands to the west.

Macroclinium-bicolor-orchid-Purulha-9126

Driving a road (instead of a highway) from Purulha towards Salama (Baja Verapaz) you find lots of orchids in the humid areas (Salama itself is dry, so lots of cacti).

We found orchids in trees, and we thank Alejandro Sagone for knowing their botanical names.

But there were also orchids growing in the ground (there are also terrestrial bromeliads in Guatemala two of which are edible).


Anywhere and everywhere along most highways in Guatemala you can find a rainbow of colors of wild flowers. In Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz (if in the cloud forest areas) many of these roadside flowers are ORCHIDS. Yes, WILD orchids by the thousands for kilometer after kilometer.

Many of these roads require 4WD vehicles (and not SUV; they are not high enough to survive the rocks which will shred their axels and anything else low on the chassis).

 


 

 

 

Why? When? Digiscoping for botanists and flower photographers?

Posted Jul. 28, 2017

Lots of birders use digiscopes to photograph birds that even an 800mm camera lens can barely capture. We have experience with 200mm, 300mm, and 400mm lenses, and will be testing a 600mm prime lens in August.

This conference is made to present the importance of nutrition among Guatemalan children, especially in rural areas, and the health benefits that this can have in the Mayan society.

95 Digiscoping-vs-telephoto-lenses-which-is-better-bird-photography-flowers-Nicholas-Hellmuth-FLAAR-1

96 Digiscoping Desmoncus sp Nicholas Hellmuth

But for photographing plants, not many people suggest a digiscope. But while doing a research project on listing all the heliconia species native to Guatemala, we quickly found out that even a 400mm telephoto lens was not enough.

 

So we are considering testing and evaluating a SWAROVSKI OPTIK digiscoping system.

 


 

 

 

Three national flowers all blooming the same week in FLAAR ethnobotanical Garden

Posted April 7, 2017

National flower of El Salvador

isote national flower El Salvador Guatemala

Izote

National flower of Belize

black-orchid Encyclia cochleatum orchid national flower Belize 9526

black orchid Encyclia cochleatum

National flower of Nicaragua

Plumeria-rubra-national-flower-of-Nicaragua

Plumeria rubra

All blooming same day in the ethnobotanical research garden surrounding the office of FLAAR.

We also have the national flower of Mexico in our ethnobotanical garden, Dahlia, but it bloomed in past month.

National flowers of Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala are three different species of orchid. That of Guatemala (Monja Blanca) is endangered so it is not appropriate to take it off a tree to bring to your garden.

Dahlia-imperialis-FLAAR-studio

Dahlia Imperialis

 


 


Different varieties of Mayan Cacao, for cocoa and chocolate

Posted March 16, 2017

Our team of FLAAR is assisted by several Q’eqchi’ Mayan-speaking people in Alta Verapaz and Peten. These “plant scouts” go out in their areas to help us find plants which are on our “would really like to find and photograph list.”

About 7 months ago we found cacao pods for sale by a Q’eqchi’ grandmother in Senahu, Alta Verapaz. These cacao pods had a curved end to them. Unfortunately we do not have her contact info nor do we know where she harvested these atypical pods. So we have asked our plant scouts to see if they can find trees with “curved, pointed” cacao pods.

While six of us from FLAAR Reports were doing research on advanced digital imaging in Shanghai, one of our plant scouts said he found a tree filled with curved cacao pods. This is a large tall tree, but not a Theobroma bicolor (so not pataxte, balamte). This is clearly Theobroma cacao, and we hope specialists in cacao DNA can figure out why these pods have a curved end.

Maya-cacao-cocoa-chocolate-curved-point-pod-Peten-guatemala-FLAAR

Mayan cacao chocolate curved point pod. Peten, Guatemala

We have also found Theobroma angustifolium in the Costa Sur, but most people suggest this came from Costa Rica by the Spaniards, very quickly after the conquest of Guatemala and Mexico. The curved-ended cacao is absolutely not Theobroma angustifolium.

 


 

 

 

FLAAR Mesoamerica has the honor to invite you to…

Posted Feb. 13, 2017

Plantas Comestibles Nutritivas para Mejorar Significativamente la Dieta y Salud de los Niños en las Zonas Rurales de Guatemala

This conference is made to present the importance of nutrition among Guatemalan children, especially in rural areas, and the health benefits that this can have in the Mayan society.

Amaranthus-hypochondriacus-Bledo-Amaranto-Rabinal-Nov-1-2016-DS-AG-F12I4338

You can download the formal invitation in the link above.

 


 
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Consulting cacao & Theobroma species

Tobacco Ingredients of Aztec & Maya

Tropical Nuts

Spices, condiments, food coloring

Underutilized edible plants

Plants and trees used to produce incense

Camera Reviews for Photographing Flowers and Plants

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Flowers native to Guatemala visible now around the world

Ethnobotany site page Donations acknowled Botton DONATE NOW

SUBJECTS TO BE COVERED DURING NEXT 6 MONTHS

Fruits (typical misnomer mishmash of Spanish language)

Fruits (vines or cacti)

Flavoring, herbs, and spices

Flowers, sacred

Plants which are sacred

Plants or trees that are used to produce incense

Most common introduced plants (not native)

We Thank Gitzo, 90% of the photographs of plants, flowers and trees in Guatemala are photographed using a Gitzo tripod, available from Manfrotto Distribution.
We thank Hoodman, All images on this site are taken with RAW CF memory cards courtesy of Hoodman.
Pachira aquatica, zapoton, zapote bobo, crucial sacred flower for Maya archaeologists and iconographers
Read article on Achiote, Bixa orellana, annatto, natural plant dye for coloring (and flavoring) food (especially cacao drink) in Guatemala and Mexico.
Read article on Cuajilote or Caiba: Parmentiera aculeata, a forgotten fruit.
Read article on Split leaf philodendron, Monstera deliciosa.
Read article on Gonolobus, an edible vine from Asclepiadaceae Family.
Pachira aquatica, zapoton, zapote bobo, crucial sacred flower for Maya archaeologists and iconographers
Flor de Mayo,Plumeria rubia, plumeria alba, plumeria obtusa. Edible flower used to flavor cacao
Guanaba, annona squamosa, Chincuya, Annona purpurea, Sugar apple, Chirimoya

 

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