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.

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Spices in the pre-Columbian Mayan diet

Cacao alone had so many spices that I have a separate chapter on flavorings just for chocolate. Despite all the condiments for cacao (especially among the Aztec royality), the typical food of the average Maya is nowhere near as spiced as food in India, which is the most

Allspice is a berry, Pimenta gorda, Pimenta racemosa This does not mean a mixture of all spices. “allspice” is one single spice. The spice comes from a berry-sized fruit. But the leaf is the part that I use the most: to make a tea.

Pimienta gorda flavorings condiments for food in pre Columbian diet of Guatemala Mexico Belize and Honduras

Pimienta gorda flavorings condiments for food in pre Columbian diet of Guatemala Mexico Belize and Honduras

Achiote, Annatto is the bright red colorant that comes from a mass of seeds inside a pod, Bixa orellana.

This seed is probably more a colorant than a flavor, but I put it in both sections.

Achiote is best known for Alta Verapaz, but also grows in the Peten Lowlands. I have an achiote sprouting in my garden (from seed). But it will take several years before I learn whether it will flower and seed at 1500 meter elevation.

Bishop Landa found achite even in Yucatan: There is a tree that the Indians raise near their houses, bearing spiny pods like chestnuts, but not so large nor so rough; they open when ripe and contain small seeds which both Spaniards and Indians use to color their condiments, as one does with saffron; the color is marked, and stains a great deal [achiote]. (Landa, Gates translation, p. 106).

bay-leaves Litsea glaucescens

boldo, Peumus boldo

Chia, Salvia hispanica; seeds used; in juice; sprouts, etc

Chipilin, Crotalaria longirostrata. Unique flower; Parts edible, part toxic (Morton 1994)

Chili peppers are spices we cover in the section on vegetables, Capsicum species

Chile jalapeño verde spices flavorings condiments for foods in pre Columbian diet of Guatemala Mexico Belize and Honduras

Chile jalapeño verde spices flavorings condiments for foods in pre Columbian diet of Guatemala Mexico Belize and Honduras


Chile jalapeño rojo spices flavorings condiments for foods in pre Columbian diet of Guatemala Mexico Belize and Honduras

Chile jalapeño rojo spices flavorings condiments for foods in pre Columbian diet of Guatemala Mexico Belize and Honduras


Chile waque spices flavorings condiments for foods in pre Columbian diet of Guatemala Mexico Belize and Honduras

Chile waque spices flavorings condiments for foods in pre Columbian diet of Guatemala Mexico Belize and Honduras

Coriander, Porophyllum ruderale

Culantro, cilantro, samat, Eryngium foetidum (Chizmar 2009:40-41). Do not confuse this with original cilantro, which is not prehispanic. This is one of the few flavorings which has positive attributes in every aspect. So many other natural foods are terrible poisons in one aspect and only edible in a narrow range of circumstances.

Cilantro flavorings condiments for food in pre Columbian diet of Guatemala Mexico Belize and Honduras

Cilantro flavorings condiments for food in pre Columbian diet of Guatemala Mexico Belize and Honduras

Hoja Santa, Piper auritum

Marigold, Tagetes minuta and Tagetes elliptica. This flower is used to flavor cacao. Overall the marigold has many uses in diet and religious observences of the Maya people.

Marigold Tagetes minuta and Tagetes elliptica this flower is used to flavor cacao Guatemala Central America

Marigold Tagetes minuta and Tagetes elliptica this flower is used to flavor cacao Guatemala Central America

Probably another dozen spices could easily be added, though most modern spices come from India, Asia, Africa, or Europe. For example, coriandum sativum, cilantro, is not indigenous to Mesoamerica.

 

First posted August 17, 2011.

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

 

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