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.

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

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Introduction to Papaya, Carica papaya, as a food of the ancient Maya

Papaya today is eaten around the world. You can grow it in any tropical country. But the home of the papaya is tropical Latin America.

There are two major sizes of papaya: modern commercial papaya, and a wild papaya (Carica cauliflora), with round fruit the size of a plum. The two trees, as trees, look very similar. But the size and shape of the fruits is the difference between night and day.

Papaya

Papaya (Carica papaya) flower at FLAAR office, FLAAR Photo Archive

Papaya (Carica papaya) flowers, FLAAR Photo Archive

Papaya (Carica papaya) flowers, FLAAR Photo Archive


Papaya from a local market in Guatemala, FLAAR Photo Archive

Papaya from a local market in Guatemala, FLAAR Photo Archive

Papaya de montana

We will have an eventual separate page on wild papaya. Some species, such as Carica cauliflora, and even more,Jacaratia mexicana (Carica mexicana), have a fruit that shares many exterior features with a simplified cacao pod! The book, Trees of Guatemala (Parker 2008:145-146), discusses three species. This book also illustrates and describes Jacaratia mexicana (Carica mexicana).

Thesis potential: papaya as a cash crop

So much botanial and agro-business research is already available on the papaya that it would be tough to add new botanical information.

Papaya fruits

Papaya tree at Sayaxche, Peten, Guatemala, FLAAR Photo Archive

Thesis potential: papaya and the ancient Maya

The Popol Vuh is very clear and states specifically that the decapitated head of Hun Hunahpu is placed in a calabash tree. It is not placed in a cacao tree nor a coconut tree, nor ceiba tree!

Furthermore, the fruit is clearly at the level whereby the young virgin would be able to receive spittle in her hand. In other words, the fruit is at eye or waist level: the fruit is not a pataxte or anona or zapote.

There are at least four trees that can fruit from the trunk (that are native to Guatemala):

  • Cacao
  • Morro and jicaro (two species but basically a similar tree, so we count them as “one”)
  • Papaya
  • One of the anonna-like fruit trees. I photographed fruit on the trunk near Rio de los Esclavos, Guatemala, near Cuilapa, Santa Rosa.

I am sure botanists should be able to find one or two other trees that fruit from the trunk, but the only ones that have sizable fruits on the trunk are the four above.

Almost every Mesoamerican scholar that has knowledge of iconography at all constantly write that the trees in Classic Maya art that bear the fruit of Hun Hunahpu is a cacao tree.

Even if this were so for the Classic period, it does not affect the historical fact that for the 16th century Quiche of the Highlands, the sacred tree was a Calabash (morro or jicaro).

The best example of the actual tree in a Classic period painting, one that has not been faked under the pretense of “restoration” is the Nebaj-area vase in the Museo Popol Vuh. The flower on this tree is not a cacao flower (I raise cacao, and papaya, so have a tad of experience in both).

I bring out the fact that the papaya tree fruits from the trunk mainly to politely suggest that we should not be so quick to think everything was cacao.

Dr Hellmuth with several species that fruits from the trunk, FLAAR Photo Archive

Dr Hellmuth with several species that fruit from the trunk: several papaya, several cacao pods and calabash (gourd tree). Realize however, that there are other trees that also fruit from the trunk, such as Cuajilote or Caiba, Parmentiera aculeata.

And does the papaya really fruit from the trunk? Or only from high up?

98% of the papaya trees that you see have the fruit high up in the tree, among the branches. But this is because kids have already knocked off or picked off the papaya that fruit from lower on the trunk. I have spent hours in the papaya plantations operated by people from Taiwan, on the left of the highway from Flores to Sayaxche, before you get to La Libertad.

Papaya plantation at La Libertad, Peten, Guatemala, Here you can see that papaya also fruits from the trunk.  Photo FLAAR Archive

Papaya plantation at La Libertad, Peten, Guatemala, Here you can see that papaya also fruits from the trunk. Photo FLAAR Archive


Papaya fruit growing from the trunk at Sayaxche, Peten, Guatemala, Photo FLAAR Archive

Papaya fruit growing from the trunk at Sayaxche, Peten, Guatemala, Photo FLAAR Archive

GALLERY

 

Last update 11 August 2011. First posted July 07, 2011.

 
Demo xtra 2

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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

Trees with conical Spines

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

 

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