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

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


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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.

Demo xtra 2

Tikal Related Reports


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

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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