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

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

Reports by FLAAR Mesoamerica
on Flora & Fauna of Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo
Peten, Guatemala, Central America

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Large Tropical Flowers available to see and study at new MUNAE exhibits

Posted April 1, 2024

After being closed to repair the roof for over a year, the Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología (MUNAE) is now open to the public. The entire inside of the museum was redesigned by new museum Director/Administrator Christopher Martínez.

Machaquila stelae have large water lily flowers being nibbled on by fish. This is a very common headdress decoration and the Machaquila stelae are well-preserved so you can see the beauty of the Nymphaea ampla flower.


A stylized fish (with two long feathers extending past its tail) nibbles on the petals of the large water lily flower. Actually the fish wants the seeds inside the mature flower, but the artists and sculptors always show the flower in full bloom (no seed inside yet).

The stem of the water lily flower is wrapped around a rectangularized rendition of the water lily pad. There are so many of these headdresses that you can “read” what is intended if you have experience seeing all the “Lily Pad Headdress Monsters” and other stylized renditions.

Machaquila Stela 3, MUNAE, Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Zona 13, Guatemala City, near the airport.


Closer view of the details of the fish, water lily flower, and rectangularized (stylized) water lily pad on Machaquila Stela 3, MUNAE. More than a dozen Maya stone stelae are on exhibit in the new displays organized by new museum Director/Administrator Christopher Martínez.


Young God N is in front of his conch shell home; a giant profile cross-section of a water lily flower is above. This remarkable scene is one of the new exhibits in MUNAE, Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología. The new museum Director/Administrator is Christopher Martínez. He had available thousands of artifacts but he selected ones with dramatic images such as this God N-conch-water lily flower scene. It is perfectly preserved and the orange-yellow color contrasts with the black background. We are making a list of all flora and fauna that are presented in the new exhibits chosen by Director/Administrator Christopher Martínez. There are a dozen animals and for flowers mostly Nymphaea ampla, white water lily.

Written by Nicholas Hellmuth.




World Traditional Medicine Day: A Closer Look to Alternative Medicine Knowledge in the World and Mesoamerica

Posted October 22, 2023

World Traditional Medicine Day is commemorated on October 22, a day established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1991 through the Beijing Declaration, with the aim of rescuing, preserving, promoting, and widely disseminating the knowledge of medicine, treatments, and traditional practices. Through this agreement, Member States of the United Nations are asked to promote policies that guarantee the safe and effective use of traditional medicines.

Keep reading the note to find more information about traditional medicine in the World and in Mesoamerican countries.


Malvaviscus arboreus Cav. Sombrero Garde, Yaxhá, Petén. Erick Flores, 2018. Note: A decoction of the flowers is used in the treatment of bronchitis, fevers, inflammation of the digestive tract, as a gargle to treat sore throats, and in popular practice as an emmenagogue. A decoction of the leaves is used for the treatment of cystitis, diarrhea, gastritis, and sore throat

What is traditional medicine?

According to the definition of the United Nations, traditional medicine is the sum of total knowledge, skills, and practices based on theories, beliefs, and native experiences to different cultures, explainable or not, and used in the maintenance of health, as well as in the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of physical or mental illness. It comprises various health practices, approaches, knowledge, and beliefs from plants, animals, and mineral sources; spiritual therapies, techniques, manuals and exercises applied singly or in combination to maintain well-being, in addition to treating, diagnosing, and preventing diseases.

Traditional medicine encompasses a wide diversity of therapies and practices that vary between countries and regions. In some countries it is called “alternative” or “complementary” medicine. It has been used for thousands of years and its practitioners have contributed greatly to human health, particularly as primary health care providers at the community level. It is recognized as a fundamental source for the health of millions of human beings, an essential component of the tangible and intangible heritage of the world’s cultures, a wealth of information, resources, and practices for development and well-being, and a factor of identity of numerous peoples on the planet.


Aristolochia grandiflora Sw. Restaurante El Montañes, San Jerónimo, Baja Verapaz. Erick Flores, 2017. Note: The roots are abortifacient, sudorific and emmenagogue. They are used in the treatment of snake bites. The leaves are also sudorific and it is used in the treatment of cold and chills.

Traditional Medicine in the World

Traditional Medicine is a broad term used to refer to traditional Chinese, Hindu, Western Arabic, Olmec, Maya, Aztec, and/or various forms of indigenous medicine. This includes therapeutic practices, and experiences immersed in specific cultural contexts, which involve the use of herbal medicines, animal parts, mushrooms, and/or minerals. Likewise, they include non-medication therapies, such as acupuncture, manual practices, and spiritual therapies.

Traditional medicine has maintained its popularity throughout the world. Since the 1990s, there has been a resurgence of its use in many developed and developing countries. It is widely used and is a rapidly growing and economically important healthcare system. According to WHO estimates, 88% of all countries make therapeutic use of practices such as indigenous medicine, herbal medicine, acupuncture and others. In Africa, up to 80% of the population uses traditional medicine to help meet their health needs. In China, it accounts for around 40% of healthcare. In the Americas, 17 nations and territories have their own laws, policies and programs to recognize, protect, and include traditional and ancestry-based knowledge in their health system. Specifically, in Latin America, populations continue to use traditional medicine as a result of historical circumstances and cultural beliefs.


Cochlospermum vitifolium (Willd.) Spreng. Km. 25, CA9 Villa Nueva, Guatemala. 2014. Note: The roots and flowers are used to treat infections, headaches, stomachaches, and snake bites.

Traditional Medicine in Mesoamerica

Mesoamerican medicine had its own root and evolution, as it is based on specific concepts about the structure of the world and the origin of life. The ancient inhabitants of this territory imagined that the world was a huge cube. In the middle of that imaginary cube was a rectangular platform inhabited by man, where they located earth itself with its mountains, plants, animals, rivers and lagoons surrounded by the sea. That sea water arose on that distant horizon to form four immense blue was that reached the sky, conceived as the lid of the bucket. The sky roof was supported by 4 enormous trees, one in each corner. There was an underground world, the region below the habitable earth platform, which had nine cold levels where clouds formed, water was born, and aquatic beings lived. Above the platform they imagined thirteen celestial levels where light and heat were born and it was through this medium that the stars, the sun, and the moon and other beings of Mesoamerican mythology traveled.

In the pre-Hispanic world, the people conceived the disease as a product of action of beings that inhabit celestial floors and the underworld, and that through the elements of the platform: wind, water, sun, earth, animals, and others; they resulted in an imbalance in the human body. In this worldview, medicine was concerned with helping the patient regain balance. Medicinal plants were a resource with which the inhabitants of Mesoamerica helped themselves to seek a cure for their disease. These plants were used in different ways: ointments, to relieve disorder through the skin; potions, for external and internal use, vaporization, etc. The inhabitants maintained an almost perfect order and organization, with doctors specializing in different tasks. There were even schools to teach young people the art of healing and there were medicinal plant markets where the people could visit, buy and consult doctors.

Currently, many of these practices continue to be used within communities in Mesoamerican countries. The indigenous traditional medicine is practiced by therapists commonly known in Spanish as “curanderos” (traditional healers), “hierberos” (herbalists), and a considerable number of other specialists including “viboreros” or “culebreros” (snake healers), “rezanderos” (prayers), “sobadores” (massage therapist), “ensalmadores” (sorcerers), as well as “sabios” (wise ones) or shamans. These specialists offer different services aimed at preventing illness, restoring health, and maintaining individual collective and community health. They are often experts in health matters, but they are also religious or civil authorities, or individuals who are knowledgeable about the weather and give advice on planting practices. They base their practices and knowledge on the cosmovision of the traditional indigenous system and the population views them with profound respect and as intrinsically linked to the community.


Cestrum nocturnum L. Nicholas Hellmuth, 2018. Note: An extract of the plant is used as an antispasmodic and as a treatment for epilepsy. In recent studies the methanol extract of the plant has shown bactericidal activity against Staphylococcus aureus and various other bacteria. In laboratory tests, the extracts of the plant are shown to inhibit tumor growth and prolong the lifetime in a dose-dependent manner.

Methods, Procedures and Material Therapeutic Resources used in Mesoamerica

There are different methods for diagnosing illness in traditional medicine. They can include one or several of the following procedures: close observation of the patients and their environment, dialogue, divination, dreams and dream interpretation, pulses, “limpias” (cleansings), ingestion of psychotropic plants, premonitions or warnings, inquiry into behaviors, and assessment of emotional, climatic, social, and interpersonal factors among others. Sometimes the same procedure is used for both diagnosis and healing.

The therapeutic resources vary depending on the diagnosis and the specialty of a given traditional healer. Some resources include the use of medicinal, psychotropic plants, and plants used in rituals, medicinal animals and amulets, minerals, hydrotherapy (“temazcal” a pre-hispanic sweat lodge or tub bath), sacred places, “mandas” (penance or sacrifice offered to alleviate the problem), “rezos” (prayers), promises, pilgrimages, offerings to holy or sacred entities, and power staffs.


Cordia dodecandra A. DC. Paso Caballos, Río San Pedro, Petén. Nicholas Hellmuth, 2016. Note: The bark, flowers and fruit are used to make cough syrup. The fruit is eaten raw with a sweet pulp and is considered a delicacy by local people. It is also highly esteemed for making preserves.

Traditional Medicine in a Modern World

In the seventies, an important change occurred in the use and study of herbalism in most of the world. Such a shift came from the World Health Organization, which recognized that medical plants used by indigenous cultures played an important role in the health of many countries. In the present year, a report by WHO showed that 40% of pharmaceutical products have a natural product basis encompassing traditional, complementary and integrative medicine. In a world where many people still associate traditional medicine and complementary spiritually with witchcraft, integrating indigenous forms of healing into mainstream healthcare may be challenging but necessary.

The truth is that modern medicine is in dire need of new drugs. Getting a new substance past the research and development stages and onto the market takes years and the investment is enormous. Additionally, growing drug resistance, partly caused by drug misuse, has rendered several antibiotics and other life-saving drugs ineffective. Both trends make scientists and pharmaceutical laboratories urgently search for new sources of drugs and pay more and more attention to traditional medicine. A few achievements have fueled interest in traditional medicine as a source of highly successful and profitable drugs. As revealed at the WHO summit, many landmark drugs like aspirin, artemisinin, and childhood cancer treatments also derive ingredients from traditional medicine.


Pithecellobium dulce Mart. Tamarindito, Petexbatún, Sayaxché, Petén. Nicholas Hellmuth, 2019. Note: The pulp has been used as astringent and haemostatic, to treat gum ailments, toothaches, and bleeding in any wound. The cortex is used to treat chronic diarrhea, dysentery, constipation, and tuberculosis. The extract of the leaves is used for indigestion, prevent miscarriage, and bladder pain. The ground seed is used to treat ulcers, diabetes mellitus, biliary disorders, fever, cold, sore throat, malaria, skin pigmentation, acne, dark spots, conjunctivitis, irritable bowel syndrome, eczema and leprosy.

FLAAR Mesoamerica’s work on medicinal plants

As an organization we are motivated to work every day to research and generate open access reports and complete bibliographies on plants with different uses. In 2014 we generated a complete inventory of plants with edible, medicinal, drug, cosmetic, and other uses. Click on the following link to read more about these plants: https://www.maya-ethnobotany.org/FLAAR-Reports-Mayan-ethnobotany-Iconography-epigraphy-publications-books-articles-PowerPoint-presentations-course/26_Mayan-ethnobotany-Guatemala-Honduras-El-Salvador-Mexico-Belize-utilitarian-and-sacred-plants-flowers-annual-report-J-2014.pdf. The photographs in this note have been recorded by the team during field trips since they are species with important uses in the country's communities and all have medicinal properties. Click on the following link to learn more about the flora species we have been studying and reporting recently: https://flaar-mesoamerica.org/product-category/ethnobotany/.


  • HUBER, Brad, and Alan SANDSTROM
  • 2001
  • Mesoamerican Healers. University of Texas Press, Austin.
  • RAI, Mahendra, CORDELL, Geoffrey, MARTÍNEZ, José, MARINOFF, Mariela, and Luca RASTRELLI
  • 2012
  • Medicinal Plants: Biodiversity and Drugs. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group. A Science Publishers Book.
  • SADIKU, Matthew, SADIKU, Janet, and Sarhan, MUSA
  • 2022
  • Traditional Medicines Around the World. iUniverse.

Written by Flor Morales Arroyo.




Plants of Mesoamerica: What we have worked on and what we have found

Posted September 18, 2023


Cassia grandis. Tikal, Petén. 2013.

Mesoamerica is one of the most diverse regions in the world both biologically and culturally. This region is occupied by the influence of the Aztec, Mayan, Teotihuacan, Toltec, and Olmec cultures. Here we have more than 19,000 species of flora described, of which Guatemala has around 10,300 of those species. Many of them have significant use in the region, not only for ancient cultures but also for current populations. We have many species with edible, medicinal, commercial, ecological, and scientific importance. Our goal over the years has been to document this diversity and share it with the public so that they can better understand the beauties that this region has to offer.


Selenicereus testudo. Petexbatun, Sayaxché, Petén. Nicholas Hellmuth, 2019.

As a team, we are interested in flora, fauna, and educational research in the Mesoamerican region. We are dedicated to documenting and photographing the flora that has a significant impact and value on the region. Our efforts focused on researching plants that have medicinal, edible, and other significant uses. The current projects that we have been working on in recent years have the purpose of documenting through high-resolution photography the biodiversity of different areas of Guatemala. These have been used to generate photographic reports and educational material on our platforms.


Río Dulce, Livingston, Izabal. Haniel López, 2021.

Yaxhá-Nakúm-Naranjo National Park (PNYNN) is the largest protected area in Guatemala, inside the Mayan Biosphere Reserve located in the north of the country, in the department of Petén. This project started in 2018 and ended in 2019. We have documented and made photo essays with the aim of publicizing the natural resources found in the protected area. We documented a wide diversity of flora in the park, among the most interesting has been the flowering of the wild vanilla orchid (Vainilla insignis Ames) which is believed to have had a significant use for ancient cultures in food and continues to be used today and even synthesized to imitate its flavor. We also found other interesting plants such as a species of orchid with aquatic habits (Bletia purpurea (Lam.) DC.), flowering tree cacti (Selenicereus testudo (Karw. ex. Zucc.) Buxb.), and a species of yellow paintbrush flower (Combretum fruticosum (Loefl.) Stuntz).

You can read more about these photographic reports of the PNYNN in the following link: https://flaar-mesoamerica.org/product-category/yaxha-project/flora/.


Vainilla insignis. Reserva de la Biosfera Maya (RBM), Petén. Edwin Solares, 2022.

We also have been working on the biodiversity documentation in the Main Protected Areas of the Mayan Biosphere Reserve (RBM) in Petén in collaboration with the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP by its acronym in Spanish). This project started in 2021 and will continue until 2025. We have also documented lots of native species such as a species of water flower (Nymphaea ampla (Salisb.) DC.), an edible species of cotton tree (Cochlospermum vitifolium (Willd.) Spreng.), and the differences between the Pseudobombax ellipticum (Kunth.) Dugand and the Pachira aquatica Aubl. flowers. An interesting one is the report of the bromeliad Aechmea bracteata (Sw.) Griseb which has great cultural value in indigenous communities such as its healing properties, it is part of religious ceremonies, and its fibers are used in the creation of tools. This species is also an important host of a wide variety of fauna and has an important function within the ecosystem of the treetops.

Look out for the other flora photographic reports of the RBM project in the following link:https://flaar-mesoamerica.org/product-category/rbm/ethnobotany-rbm/.


Nymphaea ampla. Laguna Petexbatun, Sayaxché, Petén. Nicholas Hellmuth, 2019.

In addition to the department of Peten, Izabal offers a range of recreational activities, is home to numerous nature parks and diverse natural landscapes. It has white sandy beaches, tall jungle-covered mountains, mangrove swamps, seagrass ecosystems, and the Mesoamerican Reef System of the Caribbean Sea. In addition, it has an incredible flora and fauna diversity and three different cultures coexisting (Mayan Q’eqchi, Garifuna, and Ladinos). This makes the department a great destination not only for tourists but also for our team to investigate. In cooperation with the municipal authorities, we have been producing educational material specifically for the Livingston municipality. We have registered species such as the water snowflake (Nymphoides indica (L.) Kuntze), an interesting species of waterlily (Nymphaea ampla (Salisb.) DC.), and multiple species of Heliconia genus. It is worth mentioning that this project has also focused on documenting edible plants of wetlands.

Consult the other flora photographic essays of the Livingston project at the following links: https://flaar-mesoamerica.org/product-category/livingston-project/edible-plants-of-wetlands/ and https://flaar-mesoamerica.org/product-category/livingston-project/plants/


Crinum americanum. Lagunita El Salvador, Livingston, Izabal. Nicholas Helmuth, 2020.

Currently, we have a total of 148 photo essays of the flora, fauna, and ecosystems from these three projects in which we have worked. 41 of them are dedicated to plants with ethnobotanical importance. If you are interested in learning more about the diversity of plants that you can find in Guatemala and that we have recorded in our projects, we invite you to visit our websites to learn more about them through the following link: https://flaar-mesoamerica.org/shop/

Written by Flor Morales Arroyo.




Several of the wild Hibiscus plants native to Guatemala are edible

Posted June 26, 2023 by Nicholas Hellmuth


One of our long-range goals is to find all wetlands plants of the Maya world that are edible. Week after week our team hikes to remote areas or travels in boats far up rivers never traversed by any botanist or ecologist.

So far we have found three Hibiscus plants or which one is edible for sure and we estimate the other two are also.

Our first discussion was on Hibiscus furcellatus, a Hibiscus that is common in several seasonally inundated savannas of Parque Nacional Laguna del Tigre (PNLT), Reserva de la Biosfera Maya (RBM), Peten, Guatemala.



Wright’s Yellowshow, huevos de vibora, Cochlospermum wrightii

Posted June 16, 2023 by Nicholas Hellmuth

Cochlospermum-wrightii-yellow-ground-herb-Zacapa-a-Cabanas-km143 Cochlospermum-wrightii-yellow-ground-herb-Zacapa-a-Cabanas-km143

Cochlospermum wrightii in the Zacapa area of Guatemala, in the sun between Crescentia alata trees. Photo by Nicholas Hellmuth


Cochlospermum wrightii (A.Gray) Byng & Christenh is the accepted name, achiote family. The Cochlospermum wrightii that we saw are ground herbs (not yet even a foot high) but their relative, Cochlospermum vitifolium can grow easily to 3 meters height as a shrub and often over a dozen meters as a tree.

We have seen and photographed Cochlospermum vitifolium in dry areas along highway CA9 from Guatemala City towards El Rancho but this was the first time we stopped to photograph Cochlospermum wrightii. When in flower Cochlospermum vitifolium is easy to notice and we have photographed this in several areas of Guatemala in the recent decade.



How large can a Plumeria rubra “shrub” grow?

Posted June 08, 2023 by Nicholas Hellmuth

Plumeria rubra are listed by botanists often as “tree or shrub.” Half the wild Plumeria rubra that I see across biodiverse ecosystems in different parts of Guatemala are large shrubs or small trees. But on June 6th, 2023, I happened to see the largest flor de mayo tree that I have yet found outside of a cemetery (often in burial areas the trees are more protected so grow taller with thicker trunks).


Uphill from Ipala, Chiquimula department of Guatemala. Over 90% of the Plumeria rubra out in the wild across Guatemala grow on steep hills or even stone cliffs (because these areas are not chopped down for slash-and-burn milpa agriculture). When you Click to Enlarge you may notice lots of epiphytic cactus (arboreal cactus that grow up tree trunks and out on the tree limbs).

Photo by Nicholas Hellmuth, June 6, 2023, iPhone 14 Pro Max. FLAAR Photo Archive has over 30 TB (yes TERAbytes) of digital photos of flora and fauna of Guatemala, Central America.




Water lilies surround Crocodiles in Late Classic Maya Art

Posted May 31, 2023

I estimate there are more water lily flowers in the 5th through 9th centuries than all other flowers combined. Second most popular flower in Maya art would be 4-petalled flowers of many different species of often water-related plants; #3 might be the Fleur de Lis, sometimes a Pseudobombax ellipticum or Pachira aquatica or composite). But water lily flowers, water lily seed pods, and water lily pads are very very common.

This lecture is July 27, 2023, in the Universidad Francisco Marroquin, organized by the Museo Popol Vuh, by MPV curator Camilo Luin. Lots of other lectures by epigraphers and other iconographers for several days. More info and links once July is upon us.

FLAAR can also offer lectures on the iconography of 4-petalled flowers in Classic Maya art.


The water lily of the Maya world, Nymphaea ampla, is the flower most frequently pictured in Classic Maya art. We will be showing several water lily Underwaterworld scenes in our July lecture on iconography and herpetology of crocodiles of the Maya Lowlands (Guatemala and surrounding countries).

This plate is a drawing by FLAAR illustrator published by Hellmuth in the mid-1970’s. The drawing has been redone by many other illustrators and posted other in locations. The dancing idealized young Maya man at the left wears a crocodile headdress (he seems to point at a waterbird who just caught a fish).

Although the lecture is focused on crocodiles, we will also mention God N’s association with crocodiles (in this scene on a Late Classic polychrome plate the personage inside the shell is not the elderly version; Old God N is by far more common). God N lives inside a conch shell, snail shell, turtle shell, spider web and other surroundings (like a hermit crab).


Lecture abstracts on full-color PowerPoint presentations on jaguars in Maya art, monkeys and other rain forest animals in Maya art; Corbel Vault Architecture of Maya temples and palaces, and dozens of other topics on iconography of deities, monsters of Xibalba, and other topics of Maya archaeology, art, and monumental architecture.





Mangrove remnant along Rio San Pedro (perhaps the most inland growing mangroves in the world)

Posted April 14, 2023

In March of 2023 our expedition team found and documented mangrove trees along Rio San Pedro, and this has been an exciting finding for our team! This mangrove remnant is remarkably unique, as well as its evolutionary history.


Mangroves have bright green leaves and characteristic aerial roots. Photo by: Vivian Hurtado. Rio San Pedro, March, 2023.

We first got to learn about these mangrove remnants through a series of media publications related to a research project in Mexico (this is Aburto-Oropeza et al. 2021’s study which will be cited later on this note). The researchers of this project located and sequenced various mangrove populations scattered inland throughout the Yucatan peninsula, including some important remnants in the basin of Rio San Pedro. Moreover, some of the highlights of this study include the documentation of a mangrove forest that is located 170 km inland from the Atlantic ocean.

Given that the researchers also mentioned the existence of isolated mangroves in the Guatemalan portion of Rio San Pedro, we decided to start investigating this topic. In that sense, we were able to find that the presence of mangroves in this area had already been discussed in at least two publications, one by Bestelmeyer and Alonso (2000) and the other by Castellanos (2006). We also looked at satellite images of this area, and we found that most of the river's basin is already deforested. So the only chances of finding mangroves would be by asking local people and navigating the river.


Mangroves have bright green leaves and characteristic aerial roots. Photo by: Vivian Hurtado. Rio San Pedro, March, 2023.

Later on, by the request of Mirtha Cano (biologist and administrator of one of the protected biotopes located next to Rio San Pedro) we planned an expedition to Rio San Pedro and Rio Escondido for another documentation project. However, to make the most of this expedition, we started asking local people if we could find the mangroves of Rio San Pedro. And indeed, we found that it was possible to get to some mangrove trees by navigating up river from El Naranjo village, so we did the proper planning to look for the mangroves in the same expedition.

Later on the actual trip, the expedition team did find the mangrove trees, and photographed them. Since then, the team has learned a lot about these mangroves' history and ecology. According to Aburto-Oropeza et al. (2021) these mangrove remnants first got here 120,000 years ago, because of a higher level of the sea. Nowadays, they still survive here because there is a high concentration of calcium in Rio San Pedro. If it was not for the leakage of calcium to the river (from the karstic soils that surround it), these mangroves wouldn't still be growing here. In fact, mangroves are coastal species that grow only on brackish water, with mangroves of Rio San Pedro being an amusing exception.


Mangrove propagule (still attached) collected at Rio San Pedro. Photo by: Vivian Hurtado. Rio San Pedro, March, 2023.

We are currently finishing a PDF report with the photographs of this expedition and helpful data that may assist you, if you are a student or researcher, to learn more about these remarkable mangroves. We hope that our work and the documentation we are doing with these mangroves can encourage you, and the local authorities to study and protect these mangroves. As mentioned before, most of the river basin is deforested and only a few vegetation patches persist, so the risk of losing these mangroves is alarmingly high.

We are planning a second expedition to this area later on this month and we encourage you to look in the next few weeks for the PDF on these mangroves and other ecosystems of the same area.

Bibliography on mangroves from Rio San Pedro

  • 2021
  • Relict inland mangrove ecosystem reveals Last Interglacial sea levels. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2021. Vol. 118, No. 41. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2024518118

Note: This is Aburto-Oropeza et al. ambitious study. They even found another mangrove species, Conocarpus erectus, in the inland mangrove associations from Tabasco, as well as other plant species from coastal mangrove associations.




Haematoxylum brasiletto flowering in bosque seco area of Guatemala

Posted January 22, 2023

At km 93, from El Rancho northward (heading for Coban), there is Haematoxylum brasiletto in full flowering mode this week.

This tree grows surrounded by cactus plants.

In Peten the palo de campeche grows in seasonally inundated swamps. But palo de tinto flowers in a different month.

We use the route through Alta Verapaz to drive from the FLAAR Mesoamerica office to accomplish field work in the PNYNN and PANAT areas of the RBM, Peten.

Lots of friendly bees sucking nectar out of the pretty yellow flowers.




Over 190,000 unique hosts read this FLAAR website on plants of Guatemala

Posted Jan 18, 2023

Alejandra Valenzuela, web statistics, FLAAR Mesoamerica, has provided the statistics. The average-per-month January through October is about 14,000. November and December the number almost doubled (to 27,967 in December). Total for the year is about 190,000.

We continue to receive appreciation from readers for the high-quality photographs of the FLAAR team and the FLAAR Reports that we issue.


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Parque Nacional Yaxha, Nakum and Naranjo

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Fungi and Lichens

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Consulting cacao & Theobroma species

Tobacco Ingredients of Aztec & Maya

Bombacaceae, Bombacoideae

Plants and trees used to produce incense

Camera Reviews for Photographing Flowers and Plants

Flowers native to Guatemala visible now around the world

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Fruits (typical misnomer mishmash of Spanish language)

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Plants or trees that are used to produce incense

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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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