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 adflexa, Coban, Guatemala, Hotel Monja Blanca, FLAAR, by Nicholas Hellmuth

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Bibliography on Palms of Mesoamerica
You can find a helpful annotated bibliography on palm trees specifically used for thatch on our www.maya-art-books.org which is our main bibliography web site.

Suggested reading list for palm trees of Guatemala

FLAAR (USA) and FLAAR Mesoamerica (Guatemala) do research on all utilitarian plants that were edible or otherwise used by the Mayan people for thousands of years. We then search for each species to help botanists find them more quickly. FLAAR also works to prepare bibliographies for botanists, students, landscape gardeners, home gardeners, and hobbyists.

We then write and illustrate field reports for professors, students, and botanical gardens which use our high-resolution photographs of the plants and flowers.

We also have a team that takes this scientific botanical knowledge and writes storyboards for children’s books and animated educational videos. Our brand for this is Mayan Toons.

So we start with botanical and ethnobotanical research. When funding allows it, we work to find what eco-system supports the plants we are studying. All this requires having a good bibliography. Three of the FLAAR team work on preparing these bibliographies: Marcella Sarti, Cristian Garcia, and Nicholas Hellmuth.

Once we have these bibliographies we feel it is appropriate to share our work with botanists, botanical park personnel, national park personnel, students, and the millions of people around the world who are interested in learning more about plants.

So here is our list of suggested reading on palm trees (and palm vines and “bushes”). We focus on Guatemala but also are interested in all areas of the Mayan peoples: Chiapas, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Yucatan, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Bibliography on Palms of Mesoamerica (Mexico, Guatemala, etc)

Here is the initial bibliography on palms of the areas of the Americas occupied by or connected by long-distance trade routes of ancient times of the Olmecs, Maya, Teotihuacanos, Toltecs, Aztecs and their neighbors. This part of the world (occupied and influenced by the Maya and Aztec) is known as Mesoamerica: north-central Mexico down to northern Costa Rica.

There are hundreds of books and thousands of web pages. Our goal is to find the reliable web pages (which are better than copy-and-paste). If you are a botanist at a large university you will have a huge library around you. We (Dr Nicholas and FLAAR) have provided about 5,000+ books to the Museo Popol Vuh on long-term loan and 13,000 books on loan to the La Ruta Maya Foundation. We do this so that more Guatemalan professors and students can have access to the books we have bought over past decades, plus the several people’s libraries that they generously donated to us.

In-house (surrounding the FLAAR teams) we have a pretty good library on plants, animals, fish, insects, reptiles, etc. of Guatemala, Mexico, and Costa Rica. So here are our initial suggestions, both for botanists but also for ethnographers, ethnobotanists, archaeologists, and all those who wish to learn about the eco-systems surrounding the Mayan cities and even more the forests nearer the Mayan people.

PDF, Articles, Books on Palms of Mesoamerica

  • ARELLANO, L. G., CARRANCO, M. E., PEREZ-Gil, F., MONTIEL, A., and Javier CABALLERO
  • 1992
  • Sabal mexicana Mart. y Sabal japa Wright. ex Becc. (Palmaceae). Recursos potenciales para la Alimentación Animal. Revista Cubana de Ciencia Agrícola. Vol. 26. No. 317-322.
  • BAILEY, L. H.
  • 1944
  • Revision of the American palmettos. Gent. Herb. Vol.6, No.7. Pages 367-459.
  • BALICK, M. J. and H. S. BECK
  • 1990
  • Useful Palms of the World: A Synoptic Bibliography. Columbia University Press, New York, 724 pages.
  • CABALLERO, Javier
  • 1993
  • El caso del uso y manejo de la palma de guano (Sabal spp.) entre los mayas de Yucatán. En: Leff, E.y J. Carabias (eds). Cultura y Manejo Sustentable de los Recursos Naturales. México. CII-UNAM y Grupo Editorial Miguel Angel Porrua, México. Pages 203-248.
  • CABALLERO Nieto, Javier
  • 2000
  • Sostenibilidad del uso y manejo tradicional de la palma de guano (Sabal spp, Arecaceae) en el área maya de Yucatán. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Instituto de Biología. Informe final SNIB-CONABIO proyecto No. M111. México D. F.

    Available Online:
    www.gbif.org/dataset/fe36fbfa-282a-42ea-abb2-e9995dfa7337

Palms of the Americas is an essential book, but, as typical of books on Plant XYZ of the World, the authors are from USA and South America: so plenty on South America and in general, but clearly Guatemala was neither their focus nor their area of expertise. But at least they do list all the palms (that they knew of in 1995) for each country: Belize has 38 (a lot for its size). Guatemala has 60 species since it’s size is larger than Belize and Guatemala has more diversity of altitude and eco-systems. Mexico of course has more diversity of eco-systems than Guatemala, plus is significantly larger: so Mexico has lots more species. Yet Panama has more than Belize, Guatemala and Mexico put together. Peru has even more than Panama.

But this book is over three decades in the past. Fresh botanical field work on palms would be helpful. Plus, most discussions of palm trees need more information on local use.

  • LUNDELL, Cyrus
  • 1938
  • Plants probably utilized by the Old Empire Maya of Petén and adjacent Lowlands. Papers of the Michigan Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters. Vol. 24. Pages 37-56.
  • MARTINEZ-Ballesté, Andrea, CABALLERO, Javier, GAMA, S. Flores and Carlos MARTORELL
  • 2001
  • Sustainability of the traditional management of xa’an palms (Sabal spp., Arecaceae) by the lowland Maya of Yucatan, México. Proceedings of the VII International Congress of Ethnobiology. University of Georgia Press, Athens.

    Available Online:
    www.uv.mx/ethnobotany/caballero_files/martinez%20etal%202002%20sabal.pdf
  • MARTINEZ-Ballesté, Andrea
  • 2006
  • Dinámica Poblacional y Sostenibilidad de las Formas Tradicionales de Manejo de la Palma de Guano (Sabal spp. Arecaceae) en el Área Maya de la Península de Yucatán. Ph.D., Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México D.F. 94 pages.

    Available Online:
    www.conabio.gob.mx/institucion/proyectos/resultados/InfM111.pdf

Note: They list, among others, xa’an palm (Sabal yapa and Sabal mexicana)

  • ORTIZ, Henry
  • 1999
  • Distribución y usos de la palma de escoba (Sabal guatemalensis Beccari) en el Municipio de Guastatoya, El Progreso. Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. 54 pages.

    Available Online:
    http://biblioteca.usac.edu.gt/tesis/01/01_2364.pdf

Note: If all you have space for is one book on trees of Guatemala, this is definitely the one book you should consider. She takes everything written in multiple aging volumes by Standley, Steyermark, Record, and their team and copies-and-pastes it into a single volume. She of course adds newer information from other sources. But I estimate 90% is copy-and-paste and less than 10% is her going on field trips to see each tree face-to-face (though surely she worked in a lot of herbarium collections).

But if you need fresh info on any one species, best to consult the botanists at UVG, USAC, and at the major national parks of Guatemala.

  • WAUCHOPE, Robert
  • 1938
  • Modern Maya Houses. Carnegie Institution of Washington (CIW). 181 pages, 31 plates.

Note: Features primarily corozo and guano palms as source of roof thatch. But also mentions that in areas outside the well-studied Mayan areas of Yucatan, Campeche, Quintana Roo and Central Petén, that Wauchope also lists cabbage palm, and chiapai or chichon (p. 106). Plus, cumumxan (a Q’eqchi’ Mayan word, spelled K’ekchi’ in the 1930’s-1960’s). Of course grass and heliconia leaves are also listed as thatch (though Wauchope himself did not work in areas where he could see and learn about heliconia leafed roof thatch).

Senaida Ba, one of our Q’eqchi’ Mayan assistants, suggests that cumumxan could be kumum, spiny palm to make brooms, Sabal species.

Note: his PhD dissertation was based on San Pedro Carchá, a suburb of Cobán (so close to the cloud-forest area). So palms of lower elevations (such as Petén) do not grow where he did his excellent research.

  • ZONA, S.
  • 1990
  • A monograph of Sabal (Araceae: Coryphoideae). Aliso. Vol. 12, No. 4. Pages 583-666.

If you want to really learn about palms, best to get a 4WD pickup truck, and a driver, and travel the back roads of Guatemala. It definitely helps to have a Q’eqchi’ Mayan speaking person with you, since this is the language spoken in most of the eco-systems where palms are common. Garifuna would be helpful for the Caribbean coastal areas of both Petén, Izabal, and adjacent Belize to the north and Honduras to the south.

For the entire Costa Sur area, Spanish is the primary language.

 

Suggested webpages with photos and information on Palms of Mesoamerica

www.prensalibre.com/vida/palma-bellos-usos_0_1079892061.html
Cites Ing. Agr. Juan José Castillo, catedrático de la Facultad de Agronomía de la Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, that there are 21 genera and 71 species in Guatemala (so more than the 60 species listed decades ago).

www.prensalibre.com/retalhuleu/Artesanos-utilizan-palma-cocotero-elaborar-escobas-Retalhuleu-0-1181881933
Artesanos utilizan palma de cocotero para elaborar escobas, by Rolando Miranda. A large size photo is very helpful to show the local people making brooms. Unfortunately the cocotero palm cited is not given any genus or species name in the article.

http://publirutagt.com/blog/las-escobas-azulco-una-tradicion-traspasa-generaciones/
Four nice photos of making brooms, but from “palma real.” When I lived in the Tikal national park for 12 months (at age 19), all the helpful people that assisted me (as a student intern in archaeology), showed me the “escoba palm.” Same during the five years I worked at Yaxha: always brooms were made from the spiny escoba palm.

http://fieldguides.fieldmuseum.org/sites/default/files/rapid-color-guides-pdfs/404_1.pdf
Excellent, fully illustrated, with info, on all palms of Belize except Chamaedorea which are in another web page

www.backyardnature.net/mexnat/sabal.htm
Information and photos of S. mexicana

www.tropicos.org/Name/2400612?projectid=7&langid=66
Information and photos of S. mexicana

www.palmerasyjardines.com/index.php/es/palmeras/guia-especies/details/28/64 sabal-mexicana
Information and photos of S. mexicana

www.gbif.org/species/2732503
Map location of S. mexicana

www.theplantlist.org/browse/A/Arecaceae/Bactris/
Species of the genus Bactris.

http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Bactris+guineensis
Information and photos of B. guineensis

https://www.gbif.org/species/2733363
Map location of B guineensis

 

 

First posted June, 2018
Bibliography prepared by Nicholas Hellmuth and Marcella Sarti, FLAAR Mesoamerica

You can find a helpful annotated bibliography on palm trees specifically used for thatch on our www.maya-art-books.org which is our main bibliography web site.

Suggested reading list for palm trees of Guatemala

FLAAR (USA) and FLAAR Mesoamerica (Guatemala) do research on all utilitarian plants that were edible or otherwise used by the Mayan people for thousands of years. We then search for each species to help botanists find them more quickly. FLAAR also works to prepare bibliographies for botanists, students, landscape gardeners, home gardeners, and hobbyists.

We then write and illustrate field reports for professors, students, and botanical gardens which use our high-resolution photographs of the plants and flowers.

We also have a team that takes this scientific botanical knowledge and writes storyboards for children’s books and animated educational videos. Our brand for this is Mayan Toons.

So we start with botanical and ethnobotanical research. When funding allows it, we work to find what eco-system supports the plants we are studying. All this requires having a good bibliography. Three of the FLAAR team work on preparing these bibliographies: Marcella Sarti, Cristian Garcia, and Nicholas Hellmuth.

Once we have these bibliographies we feel it is appropriate to share our work with botanists, botanical park personnel, national park personnel, students, and the millions of people around the world who are interested in learning more about plants.

So here is our list of suggested reading on palm trees (and palm vines and “bushes”). We focus on Guatemala but also are interested in all areas of the Mayan peoples: Chiapas, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Yucatan, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Bibliography on Palms of Mesoamerica (Mexico, Guatemala, etc)

Here is the initial bibliography on palms of the areas of the Americas occupied by or connected by long-distance trade routes of ancient times of the Olmecs, Maya, Teotihuacanos, Toltecs, Aztecs and their neighbors. This part of the world (occupied and influenced by the Maya and Aztec) is known as Mesoamerica: north-central Mexico down to northern Costa Rica.

There are hundreds of books and thousands of web pages. Our goal is to find the reliable web pages (which are better than copy-and-paste). If you are a botanist at a large university you will have a huge library around you. We (Dr Nicholas and FLAAR) have provided about 5,000+ books to the Museo Popol Vuh on long-term loan and 13,000 books on loan to the La Ruta Maya Foundation. We do this so that more Guatemalan professors and students can have access to the books we have bought over past decades, plus the several people’s libraries that they generously donated to us.

In-house (surrounding the FLAAR teams) we have a pretty good library on plants, animals, fish, insects, reptiles, etc. of Guatemala, Mexico, and Costa Rica. So here are our initial suggestions, both for botanists but also for ethnographers, ethnobotanists, archaeologists, and all those who wish to learn about the eco-systems surrounding the Mayan cities and even more the forests nearer the Mayan people.

PDF, Articles, Books on Palms of Mesoamerica

  • ARELLANO, L. G., CARRANCO, M. E., PEREZ-Gil, F., MONTIEL, A., and Javier CABALLERO
  • 1992
  • Sabal mexicana Mart. y Sabal japa Wright. ex Becc. (Palmaceae). Recursos potenciales para la Alimentación Animal. Revista Cubana de Ciencia Agrícola. Vol. 26. No. 317-322.
  • BAILEY, L. H.
  • 1944
  • Revision of the American palmettos. Gent. Herb. Vol.6, No.7. Pages 367-459.
  • BALICK, M. J. and H. S. BECK
  • 1990
  • Useful Palms of the World: A Synoptic Bibliography. Columbia University Press, New York, 724 pages.
  • CABALLERO, Javier
  • 1993
  • El caso del uso y manejo de la palma de guano (Sabal spp.) entre los mayas de Yucatán. En: Leff, E.y J. Carabias (eds). Cultura y Manejo Sustentable de los Recursos Naturales. México. CII-UNAM y Grupo Editorial Miguel Angel Porrua, México. Pages 203-248.
  • CABALLERO Nieto, Javier
  • 2000
  • Sostenibilidad del uso y manejo tradicional de la palma de guano (Sabal spp, Arecaceae) en el área maya de Yucatán. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Instituto de Biología. Informe final SNIB-CONABIO proyecto No. M111. México D. F.

    Available Online:
    www.gbif.org/dataset/fe36fbfa-282a-42ea-abb2-e9995dfa7337

Palms of the Americas is an essential book, but, as typical of books on Plant XYZ of the World, the authors are from USA and South America: so plenty on South America and in general, but clearly Guatemala was neither their focus nor their area of expertise. But at least they do list all the palms (that they knew of in 1995) for each country: Belize has 38 (a lot for its size). Guatemala has 60 species since it’s size is larger than Belize and Guatemala has more diversity of altitude and eco-systems. Mexico of course has more diversity of eco-systems than Guatemala, plus is significantly larger: so Mexico has lots more species. Yet Panama has more than Belize, Guatemala and Mexico put together. Peru has even more than Panama.

But this book is over three decades in the past. Fresh botanical field work on palms would be helpful. Plus, most discussions of palm trees need more information on local use.

  • LUNDELL, Cyrus
  • 1938
  • Plants probably utilized by the Old Empire Maya of Petén and adjacent Lowlands. Papers of the Michigan Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters. Vol. 24. Pages 37-56.
  • MARTINEZ-Ballesté, Andrea, CABALLERO, Javier, GAMA, S. Flores and Carlos MARTORELL
  • 2001
  • Sustainability of the traditional management of xa’an palms (Sabal spp., Arecaceae) by the lowland Maya of Yucatan, México. Proceedings of the VII International Congress of Ethnobiology. University of Georgia Press, Athens.

    Available Online:
    www.uv.mx/ethnobotany/caballero_files/martinez%20etal%202002%20sabal.pdf
  • MARTINEZ-Ballesté, Andrea
  • 2006
  • Dinámica Poblacional y Sostenibilidad de las Formas Tradicionales de Manejo de la Palma de Guano (Sabal spp. Arecaceae) en el Área Maya de la Península de Yucatán. Ph.D., Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México D.F. 94 pages.

    Available Online:
    www.conabio.gob.mx/institucion/proyectos/resultados/InfM111.pdf

Note: They list, among others, xa’an palm (Sabal yapa and Sabal mexicana)

  • ORTIZ, Henry
  • 1999
  • Distribución y usos de la palma de escoba (Sabal guatemalensis Beccari) en el Municipio de Guastatoya, El Progreso. Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. 54 pages.

    Available Online:
    http://biblioteca.usac.edu.gt/tesis/01/01_2364.pdf

Note: If all you have space for is one book on trees of Guatemala, this is definitely the one book you should consider. She takes everything written in multiple aging volumes by Standley, Steyermark, Record, and their team and copies-and-pastes it into a single volume. She of course adds newer information from other sources. But I estimate 90% is copy-and-paste and less than 10% is her going on field trips to see each tree face-to-face (though surely she worked in a lot of herbarium collections).

But if you need fresh info on any one species, best to consult the botanists at UVG, USAC, and at the major national parks of Guatemala.

  • WAUCHOPE, Robert
  • 1938
  • Modern Maya Houses. Carnegie Institution of Washington (CIW). 181 pages, 31 plates.

Note: Features primarily corozo and guano palms as source of roof thatch. But also mentions that in areas outside the well-studied Mayan areas of Yucatan, Campeche, Quintana Roo and Central Petén, that Wauchope also lists cabbage palm, and chiapai or chichon (p. 106). Plus, cumumxan (a Q’eqchi’ Mayan word, spelled K’ekchi’ in the 1930’s-1960’s). Of course grass and heliconia leaves are also listed as thatch (though Wauchope himself did not work in areas where he could see and learn about heliconia leafed roof thatch).

Senaida Ba, one of our Q’eqchi’ Mayan assistants, suggests that cumumxan could be kumum, spiny palm to make brooms, Sabal species.

Note: his PhD dissertation was based on San Pedro Carchá, a suburb of Cobán (so close to the cloud-forest area). So palms of lower elevations (such as Petén) do not grow where he did his excellent research.

  • ZONA, S.
  • 1990
  • A monograph of Sabal (Araceae: Coryphoideae). Aliso. Vol. 12, No. 4. Pages 583-666.

If you want to really learn about palms, best to get a 4WD pickup truck, and a driver, and travel the back roads of Guatemala. It definitely helps to have a Q’eqchi’ Mayan speaking person with you, since this is the language spoken in most of the eco-systems where palms are common. Garifuna would be helpful for the Caribbean coastal areas of both Petén, Izabal, and adjacent Belize to the north and Honduras to the south.

For the entire Costa Sur area, Spanish is the primary language.

 

Suggested webpages with photos and information on Palms of Mesoamerica

www.prensalibre.com/vida/palma-bellos-usos_0_1079892061.html
Cites Ing. Agr. Juan José Castillo, catedrático de la Facultad de Agronomía de la Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, that there are 21 genera and 71 species in Guatemala (so more than the 60 species listed decades ago).

www.prensalibre.com/retalhuleu/Artesanos-utilizan-palma-cocotero-elaborar-escobas-Retalhuleu-0-1181881933
Artesanos utilizan palma de cocotero para elaborar escobas, by Rolando Miranda. A large size photo is very helpful to show the local people making brooms. Unfortunately the cocotero palm cited is not given any genus or species name in the article.

http://publirutagt.com/blog/las-escobas-azulco-una-tradicion-traspasa-generaciones/
Four nice photos of making brooms, but from “palma real.” When I lived in the Tikal national park for 12 months (at age 19), all the helpful people that assisted me (as a student intern in archaeology), showed me the “escoba palm.” Same during the five years I worked at Yaxha: always brooms were made from the spiny escoba palm.

http://fieldguides.fieldmuseum.org/sites/default/files/rapid-color-guides-pdfs/404_1.pdf
Excellent, fully illustrated, with info, on all palms of Belize except Chamaedorea which are in another web page

www.backyardnature.net/mexnat/sabal.htm
Information and photos of S. mexicana

www.tropicos.org/Name/2400612?projectid=7&langid=66
Information and photos of S. mexicana

www.palmerasyjardines.com/index.php/es/palmeras/guia-especies/details/28/64 sabal-mexicana
Information and photos of S. mexicana

www.gbif.org/species/2732503
Map location of S. mexicana

www.theplantlist.org/browse/A/Arecaceae/Bactris/
Species of the genus Bactris.

http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Bactris+guineensis
Information and photos of B. guineensis

https://www.gbif.org/species/2733363
Map location of B guineensis

 

 

First posted June, 2018
Bibliography prepared by Nicholas Hellmuth and Marcella Sarti, FLAAR Mesoamerica

 

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