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.

Brugmansia arborea, Florifundia
Photo by Sofia Monzon with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i.

This space is for flowers
we have recently found and photographed.


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Ethnobotany Flaar banner thanksgiving 2015

Drawing is by two of our team: university graphic design student Mellany and student intern Maria Josefina, copyright 2015 FLAAR.

The ancient Maya of southern Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala had a turkey species totally different than the North American turkey: the turkey of Guatemala is the ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata).

We show here two felines getting ready to have their yummy turkey feast (there are five species of felines in Guatemala: jaguar, puma, jaguarundi, ocelot, and margay).

We hope you enjoy our thanksgiving day bird feast humor. Don’t worry, we do not eat wild ocellated turkeys; they are protected species.



Crocodiles, Jaguars, Fish, Conch Shells Stingrays, and sharks in Maya murals and art

Posted October 28, 2015

80 Invitacion Hellmuth Mayan ethnozoology animals fauna lecture Oct 30 2015

Friday, 30 October, 2:30pm, in Antigua Guatemala, is the first of eight lectures by eight different archaeologists, zoologists, botanists, and cave explorer. Dr Nicholas Hellmuth is the first speaker.

It is natural to assume that sharks are marine creatures, especially when you are swimming on a beach! But in Mexico and Guatemala, one species of deadly shark swims far up the Rio Usumacinta and on the other coast swims up the Rio Dulce and Lake Izabal.

So we hope to see you at 2:30 pm in Antigua Guatemala (Cooperacion Espanola, one block from main plaza, organized by Fundacion La Ruta Maya).

If you can’t make the lecture, we can provide the lecture to you if you can help us obtain an underwater camera case for our Nikon D810. Either a Subal ND810, or Nauticam NA-D810, or Sea & Sea MDX-D810 underwater housing. In return for a (tax deductible donation) we would provide a copy of the PhD dissertation of Dr Hellmuth PLUS the entire PowerPoint presentation.

It would also help our future research to have an Olympus TG-4 underwater point-and-shoot camera for our assistants (much easier to use than a DSLR when you are faced with a shark!). In return for a donation for this camera we would provide the entire PowerPoint presentation.

If you would like these or any of other archaeology, flora or fauna lectures by Dr Nicholas, in-person, in your home town, anywhere in the world, a donation for the underwater housing + airfare to you city (and a hotel to stay) he can lecture to you, your friends and family; or at a local club, school, or association that you belong to. He can lecture in English, Spanish, or German.


4-petaled flowers Maya ethnobotanical research on water-related plants

Posted October 7, 2015

Fundacion La Ruta Maya has invited Dr Hellmuth to give two lectures in Antigua Guatemala: Oct 23rd in the evening; and Oct 30th in early afternoon. Both topics will be on the iconography and cosmology of water-related symbolism. So we went on another field trip to a water eco-system in Peten to do more documentation for these lectures.

1 Mayan-ethnobotany-iconography-plants-food-fruits-sacred-flowers-trees-Guatemala FLAAR-annual-report-2010-2011 2 Underwater-lilly-Arroyo-Pucte-Apr-22-2013-1121
3 Waterlilly-Arroyo-Pucte-May-10-2013-morning-2235
Examples of water lilies blooming underwater, Arroyo Pucte (Rio de la Pasion, Sayaxche) and Canal de Chiquimulilla (Monterrico). All this will be discussed and explained during the presentation Oct 23rd, Antigua Guatemala.


The focus of the evening lecture is on water lily eco-systems, both above water and underwater. This is because a percentage of these plants bloom underwater; these flowers never reach above the surface. Botanists said this was not true, so we went underwater to record this “impossible” botanical situation.

4-petaled-yellow-flower-Rio-San-Pedro-Martyr-Oct-3-2015-NH-2638 Ipomoea-alba-white-morning-glory-Rio-San-Pedro-Martyr-Oct-3-2015-NH-2784 Ipomoea-violacea-lavander-morning-glory-Rio-San-Pedro-Martyr-Oct-3-2015-NH-2805
Three flowers which grow in the swamps alongside the Rio San Pedro Martyr, with water lilies blooming in the river in front of them.


But the full-color presentation Oct 23rd will showcase all the other beautiful flowering plants which thrive on the shore facing the water lilies in the river. Of these, an unexpected discovery is a 4-petaled flower.

4-petaled flowers are pictured in Late Classic (Tepeu 2) vases, bowls, and plates of Tikal, Uaxactun and neighboring Mayan ruins of Guatemala. Nicholas found several bowls and vases with 4-petaled flowers in the Tomb of the Jade Jaguar which he discovered in Tikal in 1965. No botanist nor archaeologist that we are aware of was able to identify which species of flower was represented until Dr Hellmuth spent three years searching throughout Guatemala to document every single solitary 4-petaled flower that exists.

It turns out that the most common 4-petaled flower grows in the same eco-system as water-lilies (along the Rio San Pedro Martyr in front of Las Guacamayas Biological Station).

If you would like to bring Dr Nicholas Hellmuth to your city (anywhere in the world) he can lecture in Spanish, English, or German (or his PowerPoint can be translated for a local audience into any other language).

E-mail us at FrontDesk “at” FLAAR.org to fly Dr Hellmuth to your city. He can also lecture on the Tomb of the Jade Jaguar of Tikal, on the Sacred Rubber Ballgames of the Maya and Aztec, on medicinal plants of the Maya, and on plants used for dye colorants for Maya clothing.


Finding and photographing more Mayan medicinal plants

Posted September 28, 2015

Whenever we find seeds of medicinal plants we bring them back to our ethnobotanical garden to plant them. So year by year we gradually have a diverse variety of medicinal plants growing around our office.

The importance of having the plants at the office is so we can photograph their flowers. Plus, if the plants are growing on the porch in front of my desk, it is a lot easier to notice in which month the plant is blooming (than trying to find the same plant blooming out in the fields and forests of remote parts of Guatemala).

The reason for photographing the flowers is to help in accurate identification of the plants. Also, most medicinal plants have not been photographed with high-resolution cameras nor with good lighting techniques. So the photographs from the FLAAR team of photographers can assist all those who welcome documentation of rare and endangered species of Mesoamerica

passiflora quadrangularis badea frut 0284

Passiflora quadrangularis, Badea. Fruit in our garden used for seed


Groundwork for re-creating 2000 year old eco-systems for movies and documentaries: Going to SIGGRAPH helps

Posted June 16. 2015

Our long range goals are to assist movie directors and location scouts to have authentic locations for Mesoamerican-related documentaries and movies, and to have remarkably accurate yet memorable eco-systems for any and all animated films on the Aztec, Maya, Olmec, Teotihuacan, Mixtec, Zapotec or other Mesoamerican culture or civilization.

Since Nicholas has worked on the archaeology of Peru for both a Harvard project and then also a Yale project, we could easily transition our abilities on the Maya and Aztec to the Inca.

To reach this level of ability, Nicholas Hellmuth has been doing field work and locational studies for decades. He was in Mexico already at age 16, in Guatemala by age 17, and was living in the seasonal rain forests of Guatemala by age 19.

For the last decade Senior Review Editor Hellmuth and his team of writers and researchers have been writing about digital photography equipment, software, and of course 3D imaging.

Assistant Editor Andrea Mendoza has been working on 3D imaging of the largest trees in Mesoamerica, the Ceiba pentandra, including testing drones for 3D scanning (we quickly learned that a GoPro camera is all PR release and zero actual ability to do this kind of scientific result).

Ceiba pentandra 3D DJI Phantom 2 review scanning Drone FLAAR Reports
3D scanning moving objects 2015 Flaar Reports
Ceiba pentandra 3D DJI Phantom 2 review scanning Drone FLAAR Reports
Digital Photography News, Digital Camera Equipment at Photokina 2012

conferences, 9-13 August 2015
Exhibition, 11-13-August 2015



Giant pod of guapinol, Hymenaea courbaril, found in Q'eqchi' house

Posted June 1. 2015

While visiting the parents of one of the student interns (who has a scholarship from FLAAR to study computer science and Q'eqchi' plant names), we found a substantial pod of guapinol, Hymenaea courbaril.

This pod was significantly larger than the pods we found under a guapinol, Hymenaea courbaril tree 40 minutes east of Lachua, Alta Verapaz.

Size difference is because it is warm climate near Lachua and colder, more mist, and higher altitude between Senahu and Cahabon (where the family of Senaida live).

Guapinol-Hymenaea-courbaril-FLAAR-Westcott-May-15-2015 9090 Giant pod of guapinol, Hymenaea cowbird, found in Q'eqchi' house.


Botanical research on Ceiba aesculifolia seedling growth sequence

Posted May 25, 2015

To help students and scholars, as well as people around the world who are interested in Maya culture, we continue studies of Ceiba aesculifolia. This is the relative of the arbol nacional, Ceiba pentandra. Ceiba aesculifolia, pochote, cebillo in local slang, grows mostly in extremely dry areas, and may have longer conical spines (though many trees have almost no spines whatsoever in one eco-system overlooking the Rio Motagua).

Ceiba aesculifolia seed growth sequence FLAAR Vivi
Here is a drawing by botany student Vivian Diaz, to show the seedling growth of Ceiba aesculifolia.


After four years search, finally found Magnolia in flower

Posted May 25, 2015

Magnolia trees are all over Orlando, Florida and the same species are in gardens in Antigua Guatemala. But this species is not native to Guatemala. We are seeking the several rare species which are native in Guatemala.

Magnolia grows mostly in extremely remote mountain areas and is being decimated since it makes great wood for flooring and other aspects of house construction. The native species are large handsome trees (so are a constant target for being chopped down).

Our interest is preserving both this species as well as documenting other uses that do not require the tree to be destroyed (the Maya used magnolia for thousands of years).

Our additional goal is to see how many other species of Magnolia we can find in the departamentos of Alta Verapaz, Huehuetnenango, and El Quiche.


Magnolia flower found blooming in late May, at high altitude, deep in a remote forest.


Maya ethnobotanical species in the high altitudes of Guatemala

Posted May 13, 2015

Normally we study plants of the Lowlands, but last week we drove through the Cuchumatanes (mountains) of El Quiche area. Not even any maize up here, yet considerable population of Mayan-speaking people.

Lots of potential for ethnobotanical research here.


3rd species of cacao, cocoa, for chocolate

Posted Jan 8, 2015

We have found a third species of cacao in Guatemala, Theobroma angustifolium. Took several weeks and several field trips to locate this. Theobroma angustifolium is known as cacao Silvestre, cacao de mico, cacao de mono, and other words (depending on which country in Mesoamerica you ask).

Almost every botanical monograph says that Theobroma angustifolium is from Costa Rica and that in Guatemala it grows only in plantations (meaning it does not grow in the wild and is not native).


We now estimate that 90% of any Theobroma angustifolium in Guatemala seen or heard about by Standley, Steyermark, Record, Williams, or botanists of the Field Museum of Natural History between 1920 and 1980 is now gone. Local people chop down the trees because they do not produce as much as modern varieties of Theobroma cacaoTheobroma angustifolium puts out thousands of beautiful flowers but few fruits.

When we asked all our cacao contacts in cacao growing regions of Guatemala, only one felt he could find some.. After several weeks (and driving about 2000 km back and forth, back and forth) we finally found one tree. The tree was very old, even older than most pataxte trees (Theobroma bicolor).

So now for 2015 we have added a page on Theobroma angustifolium.

<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 Next > End >>

Consulting cacao & Theobroma species

Tobacco Ingredients of Aztec & Maya

Tropical Nuts

Spices, condiments, food coloring

Plants and trees used to produce incense

Camera Reviews for Photographing Flowers and Plants

Trees with conical Spines

Flowers native to Guatemala visible now around the world

Ethnobotany site page Donations acknowled Botton DONATE NOW


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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