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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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).

Theobroma-angusifolium-Cacao-1257

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.

 

FLAAR Reports on Maya plants, agriculture, diet, will be in PowerPoint format

Posted February 20, 2015

Most of the new research results reports on sacred flowers, edible plants of Tikal, flora of Yucatan, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Chiapas, Belize, Honduras, etc will be in PowerPoint format so that professors and instructors can use our material in their courses.

However this material is not intended to use used as filler for miscellaneous web sites who simply fill their pages from the work of others: the FLAAR material is for universities, museums, research organizations, and other appropriate institutes and associations. The photographs themselves are copyright 2015 FLAAR, and should be credited to Nicholas Hellmuth and Sofia Monzon.

Plants of the rain forests, swamps, and deserts are covered (yes, there are cactus covered dry areas in the "rain shadow" between Sierra de las Minas and the Motagua River of Guatemala). One of the remarkable sacred flowers of thousands of years of the Maya religion and iconography blooms here (we also raise them in our research garden).

We cover both Maya subsistence, diet (and occasionally recipes) for the Neo-tropical dominant plants of the ancient Maya.

 

Continued research on Mayan medicinal plants

Posted Feb. 2, 2015

While photographing in a field near Rio de los Esclavos, Departamento de Santa Rosa, a local person came up to introduce himself. Turned out he was a Mam speaker who had several years experience living and working in USA. But it also turned out that he knew medicinal plants of many areas of Guatemala. So we recently did a field trip in the fincas of the family who owns the building which we rent for our offices.

It is always a good idea to know the owner of the land where you are doing plant photography, and to get to know the local people from nearby villages.

We are now posting a bibliography on medicinal plants to document our continued research. Since we have found many plants which are not in other textbooks, we are seeking grants and funding to continue our long range program to find, photograph, and publish all the local, native Mayan medicinal plants of Guatemala.

 

Benefits of using drones for studying trees

Posted Jan. 19, 2015

Agronomists have surely been using drones for several years. But this technology is still relatively new in Mesoamerica. We recently hired an experienced drone pilot in Guatemala, Juan Carlos Fernandez, to study trees. As long as your drone is not commercial size, and as long as you use it in an area where you are not intruding on anyone's privacy, use is considered normal.

We have been studying ceiba trees for many decades. The Ceiba pentandra is the national tree of Guatemala today and was a sacred tree for the Maya and most cultures of Mesoamerica for thousands of years.

These trees are so high that there is no way to do photography from above unless you have enough $$ to charter a helicopter. Since that is too expensive for most scholars, we are testing normal-sized drones (about 40 cm in diameter).

We learned a lot in the two days of our first experiences. Juan Carlos Fernandez, the drone controller, photographed two ceibas and two palo blanco trees, Tabebuia donnell-smithii. We will be publishing our results in a FLAAR Report and potentially elsewhere in the coming months.


Ceiba-pentandra-hacienda-la-esperanza-drone-image-IMG-7356

 

Goals for studies of Mayan agriculture for 2015

Posted the last days of December 2014 as preparation for 2015; updated May 2015

In 2015 we hope to find

  • native magnolia in bloom,
  • all other species of native magnolia
  • Quararibea funebris, Rosita de cacao
  • Hymenaea courbaril, Guapinol, when it blooms
  • Smilax species flowers (tough, as this vine flowers high in tall trees)
  • and Curatella Americana in bloom, chaparal.

So far in the first five months we reached several of these goals:
we found Curatella americana in its literally last days of blooming for 2015.

A team of our two botany students found one species of magnolia in bloom, Magnolia quetzal, on a remote mountain slope.

one of our plant scouts found Guapinol near Parque Lachua, but it had mature seed pods (insides are edible). So we need to learn when it will bloom in 2016.

 

Progress in Maya ethnobotanical research in Mesoamerica

Posted the last days of December 2014 as preparation for 2015

On Christmas day 2014 we were photographing the pretty lavender flowers of achiote, Bixa orellana, in a remote area of Alta Verapaz. Two days later we reached the cacao areas of the Boca Costa (piedmont and initial hills before the higher mountain ranges) and Costa Sur (flatlands).

We also continue to study plants which produce dye colorants for Maya clothing. Several scholars in Guatemala have published on dye colorants. Our contribution is to find and photograph each species in high resolution.

And we will also keep on searching for medicinal plants. We appreciate the cooperation of medical biologist Armando Caceres in this work; we want to photograph the flowers and eco-system of all medicinal plants of the Maya. The lists already exist; what is lacking is a coffee-table quality and quantity of photographs of the actual remarkable medicinal plants.

Plus we wish to encourage local people to consider a better diet of more fruits and more vegetables (in other words, to learn more about the foods of their ancestors).

Also we would like to do projects with international agencies, on how to provide employment in rural areas, by creating clever items from natural plant products to sell to tourists in Guatemala City, Lake Atitlan, Chichicastenango, Tikal, etc. We already have a list of what local, native, Mayan plants and trees could be used.

As soon as donations, contributions, or grants allow us to obtain a 4WD double-cabin Toyota or Madza pickup (or Ford F250 of comparable size) we can achieve more. Plus it would help to have access to

  • Schneider Xenon f1.6, 35 mm lens (for photographing trees)
  • Zeiss Otis f1.4, 55mm lens (for photographing trees out in a field),
  • Schneider Macro Symmar f2.4, 85mm, for high-res close-ups of flowers
  • a Canon EF 500mm f/4.0L IS II USM prime telephoto lens (for photographing flowers and fruits high in trees, or a tree which is across a creek or on the other side of a narrow canyon).

Plus one really high-power PC and one fully-equipped Mac to handle high-resolution photographs (here at FLAAR we use both Mac and PC, since some software prefers one or the other).

 

Flor de Muerto, Maya flowers for deceased relatives

Posted Oct 31, 2014

"Flor de Muerto" is a marigold flower which is used to decorate the graves of deceased relatives. Millions of people in Latin America (and elsewhere) celebrate the first days of November by honoring their dead relatives. Flowers are placed on the graves.

Marigold flowers are the primary flower, but each year more plastic flowers are used, or cheap flowers spray painted with bright chemical colors. So we are trying to find and photograph Mayan areas of Guatemala where actual native flowers are still used.

Marigolds come in many sizes and shapes; most are yellow but other colors occur. Several species provide a yellow dye colorant (to color food or to color cloth). Some marigolds have rather potent chemical composition, especially Tagetes lucida (a species whose flower is very different in size and shape than the larger daisy-like marigold flowers).

The name "flor de Muerto" is used for almost any marigold but I estimate is most appropriate for the medium sized flower with closely bunched petals. And usually darkish colors rather than all bright yellow.

Tagetes erecta Flor de Muerto Sep 2013 4871

Flor de Muerto, Maya flowers for deceased relatives

 

Cashew Nut Fruit

First published August 2014


We have had a web page on cashew nuts for several years. But when flying from Tehran to Istanbul in early August, the NY Times that they handed out on the Turkish Airlines flight had an article on Pepsi Co. of India and their work with seeking ways to handle the fruit of the cashew apple. Since I have been photographing cashew flowers and cashew apples for many years throughout Guatemala, I thought now that more people know about the cashew apple would be a good time to prepare an introductory bibliography.

Anacardium occidentale cashew nut fruit flowers Rio de los Esclavos Mar15 6515

Anacardium occidentale, Cashew nut fruit, taken with a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, From the Flaar photo Archive. Taken on 2013.

 

Guava research in Guatemala

Posted April 2014

We are finding out all the diverse range of uses of guava, of every part of the plant.

Much to our surprise, it turned out we had a guava tree in our own garden: never knew since the garden is like a thick jungle at times. But when it bloomed, Sofia Monzon took great photos of the flowers.

guava-psidium-guajava-flaar-guayaba-photography-flaar

Psidium guajava L., Guava Flower, photo by Sofia Monzon

You can see the full article Here.

 
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Tikal Related Reports

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Bernoullia_flammea_mapola_&_temple_V_Tikal_FLAAR_Report
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Meleagris_ocellata_occelated_turkey_Tikal_FLAAR_Report

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
Guanaba, annona squamosa, Chincuya, Annona purpurea, Sugar apple, Chirimoya

 

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