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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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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Edible Acacia plants, subin, bullhorn Acacia of Guatemala

Acacia, subin, bullhorn acacia are edible

I have seen bullhorn Acacia plants in many areas of Guatemala during decades of field work. Now that we are finding Acacia plants in the transition zones of savannas of Parque Nacional Laguna del Tigre (PNLT), I am learning that lots of these Acacia plants have edible parts. This interests me because we are doing field work and library research to find how many wild native plants that are edible can be found in wetlands of Peten or Izabal:

  • Swamps
  • Marshes Riversides, lake sides
  • Seasonally inundated bajos
  • Seasonally inundated grassland savannas or cibales (cutting grass savannas)

Family name FABACEAE: Mimosoideae (Balick, Nee and Atha 2000: 82).

Common name for Acacia

The common name in Guatemala is subin (is rarely spelled Zubin). Common English name is bullhorn Acacia or bull horn Acacia.

Introduction to Acacia species of Guatemala

Bull horn acacia are common in wet areas throughout Mesoamerica. There are several species with bull horn spaced thorns. One is Vachellia cornigera (L.) Seigler & Ebinger. Acacia, Mimosa and V are genera of plant family Fabaceae. Bullhorn acacia is edible.
Lists Vachellia cornigera as an accepted name; Balick, Nee and Atha do not include the plant name Vachellia cornigera; they use Acacia cornigera (L.) Willd. — Syn: Acacia spadicigera Schltdl. & Cham. —Loc Use: MED. — Reg Use: MED, FOOD. — Nv: cock spur, cuerno de vaca, zubin. — Habit: Shrub or tree. Acacia gentlei Standl. Is also listed as food for Belize (2000: 82). There seems to be botanical confusion between Vachellia cornigera, Mimosa cornigera and Acacia cornigera (www.anbg.gov.au/jmiller/factsheets/Vachellia/cornigera.htm)

Another bullhorn acacia is Acacia collinsii Saff., known locally as subin. Snag is that Acacia cornigera is also known as subin. Is listed as edible and medicinal: Edible leaves, roots, seeds, bark or flowers, Medicinal (https://proecoazuero.org/en/trees/acacia-collinsii/).

Acacia mayana is not listed for Belize but is listed for the Lacandon area of Chiapas, Mexico:  Acacia mayana Lund. ,syn. Vachellia mayana (Lund.) Seigler & Ebinger is also a bullhorn acacia and is also edible:

Akunte' is a tree, but it’s not very large. The trunk has a lot of thorns. The thorns are very large. The thorns stick out all over the trunk. The leaves are tiny. The fruit is long and very red. The pulp is very white. The seeds are like those of watermelon: numerous, tiny, and round. You eat the whole fruit, seeds and all. (Cook 2016:104).

 

Acacia species in Belize

Balick, Nee and Atha (2000: 92) list:

Acacia angustissima (Mill.) Kuntze — Syn: Acacia filicioides (Cav.) Trel. — Reg Use: MED, FORG, TAN. — Habit: Shrub or tree.

Acacia collinsii Saff. — Syn: Acacia costaricensis Schenck  Loc Use: MED. — Reg Use: MED. — Nv: cockspur, subín, zubin. — Habit: Shrub or tree.

Acacia cookii Saff. — Syn: Acacia bucerophora B. L. Rob. Nv: ant thorn, cockspur, huascanal, liscanal, subin. — Habit: Shrub or tree.

Acacia cornigera (L.) Willd. — Syn: Acacia spadicigera Schltdl. & Cham. —Loc Use: MED. — Reg Use: MED, FOOD. — Nv: cock spur, cuerno de vaca, zubin. — Habit: Shrub or tree.

Acacia dolichostachya S.F. Blake. — Loc Use: CNST, TAN, PRD. — Nv: guin, jesmo, junco wood, wild tamarind, tamarindo de monte. — Habit: Shrub or tree.

Acacia farnesiana (L.) Willd.— Reg Use: FUEL, PRD, ORN, MED, FORG, DYE, GUM, POIS, TAN. — Nv: cashaw, cuntich. — Habit: Shrub or tree.

Acacia gentlei Standl.— Loc Use: MED, FOOD. — Reg Use: MED. — Nv: cockspur, cocks spur, red cockspur, zubin. — Habit: Tree.

Acacia globulifera Saff. —Loc Use: MED. — Reg Use: MED. — Nv: cockspur, zubin. — Habit: Shrub or tree. —

Acacia glomerosa Benth. —Loc Use: CNST, MED, TAN. — Reg Use: PRD. — Nv: bastard prickly yellow, espino de san pedro, jim crow, pal'liro, prickly yellow, salam, white tamarind. — Habit: Tree

Acacia villosa (Sw.) Willd. — Habit: Tree.

(Balick, Nee and Atha 2000: 92)

Practical uses of Acacia species in Mayan areas:

  • Tannin:
    • Acacia angustissima synonym of Acacia floribunda
    • Acacia dolichostachya
    • Acacia farnesiana
    • Acacia glomerosa
  • Dye Colorant:
    • Acacia farnesiana (listed as ink and perfume by Lundell (1938).

How many Acacia species are edible?

Edible in Lundell 1938

Edible in Balick, Nee and Atha 2000: 92 Edible after additional research

 

No edible Acacia listed back in 1938

Acacia cornigera

Synonym is: Acacia spadicigera
Acacia skleroxyla is accepted name for synonym Mimosa angustifolia

Ratsch (2005: 28-29) lists two species of Acacia: Acacia cornigera and Acacia angustifolia. Subin is very common throughout Lowland Guatemala; the other species is not as well documented in the literature; Flavoring for pulque

Synonym of Acacia cornigera is: Acacia spadicigera (edible pulp, (Williams 1981: 158)

  Acacia gentlei Acacia collinsii

Williams 1981

    Acacia hindsii

Arellano Rodríguez
et al. 2003

    Acacia mayana,
Vachellia mayana

’akunte’, Cook 2016: 29, 39, 104-105, 245, 285

 

 

Acacia glomerosa Benth

Palo lagarto

Sweet resin (but does not say you eat the gum, but that may be assumed).

 

Is there potential medicinal usage of Acacia species by local people

Acacia angustissima
Acacia collinsii
Acacia cornigera
Acacia gentlei
Acacia globulifera
Acacia glomerosa
(Balick, Nee and Atha 2000: 92)

Bibliography, books, articles, web sites: List of Suggested Reading on Acaciaplants of Mesoamerica (Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, etc.)

There are hundreds of articles and dozens of monographs that discuss Acacia plants (especially of Australia). But our focus is learning which Acacia trees and shrubs of the Mayan world have edible parts. So here are some books and articles to get yous tarted.

  • BALICK, Michael J., NEE, Michael H. and Daniel E. ATHA
  • 2000
  • Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Belize: With Common Names and Uses. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden Vol. 85. 246 pages.

    I have not yet found any book on Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador that comes even close. For Mexico there are thousands of articles and books on botany and ethnobotany, but none as nearly organized as the above book on Belize.

    No photos but is a total list with uses: food, medicinal plants, useful plants, etc.
  • BOLAND, W.
  • 2014
  • Ants Protect Acacia Plants Against Pathogens. Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. Vol. 122. No. 2. Pages 1-2.
  • CLEMENT, L.
  • 2008
  • Strategies of a parasite of the ant-Acacia mutualism. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Vol. 62. Pages 953-962.
  • CONAFOR
  • 2013
  • Acacia farnesiana (L.) Willd, CONABIO. SIRE. Paquetes Tecnológicos. Pages 1-7.
  • COOK, Suzanne
  • 2016
  • The Forest of the Lacandon Maya: An Ethnobotanical Guide. Springer.

    By far the best book on ethnobotany of the Lacandon Maya.
  • GONZÁLEZ, M.; and M, HEIL.
  • 2010
  • Pseudomyrmex ants and Acacia host plants join efforts to protect their mutualism from microbial threats. Plant Signaling and Behavior. Vol. 5. No. 7. Pages 890-892.
  • GONZÁLEZ, M.; POZO, M.; MUCK, A.; SVATOS, A.; ADAME, R.; and M, HEIL.
  • 2010
  • Glucanases and Chitinases as Causal Agents in the Protection of Acacia Extrafloral Nectar from Infestation by Phytopathogens. Plant Phytology. Vol. 152. Pages 1705-1715.
  • GONZÁLEZ, M.; KALTENPOTH, M.; and W, BOLAND.
  • 2013
  • Mutualistic ants as an indirect defence against leaf pathgens. New Phytologist. Vol. 202. Pages 640-650.
  • GONZÁLEZ, M.; JIMÉNEZ, G.; and W, BOLAND.
  • 2014
  • Foliar endophytic fungi as potential protectors from pathogens in myrmecophytic Acacia plants. Communicative and Integrative Biology. Vol. 7. No. 5. Pages 1-5.
  • HEIL, M.; BAUMANN, B.; KRUGER, R.; and E, LINSENMAIR.
  • 2004
  • Main nutrient compounds in food bodies of Mexican Acacia ant-plants. Birkhauser Verlag, Basel. Vol 14. Pages 45-52.
  • JANZEN, D.
  • 1966
  • Coevolution of Mutualism between Ants and Acacias in Central America. Evolution. Vol. 20. No. 3. Pages 249-275.
  • JANZEN, D.
  • 1974
  • Swollen-Thorn Acacias of Central America. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany .No. 13. Pages 80-135.
  • KAUTZ, S.; BALLHORN, D.; KROISS, J.; PAULS, S.; MOREAU, C.; EILMUS, S.; STROHM, E.; and M, HEIL.
  • 2012
  • Host Plant Use by Competing Acacia-Ants: Mutualists Monopolize While Parasites Share Hosts. PLoS ONE. Vol. 7. No. 5. Pages 1-10.
  • LUNDELL, Cyrus L.
  • 1937
  • The Vegetation of Peten. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publ. 478. Washington. 244 pages.

    We scanned the entire book so have it as a super-helpful in-house PDF.
  • LUNDELL, Cyrus L.
  • 1938
  • Plants Probably Utilized by the Old Empire Maya of Peten and Adjacent Lowlands. Papers of the Michigan Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters 24, Part I:37-59.
  • ORONA, D.; WIELSCH, N.; ESCALANTE, M.; SVATOS, A.; MOLINA, J-; MUCK, A.; RAMIREZ, E.; ÁDAME, R.; and M, HEIL.
  • 2013
  • Short-term proteomic dynamics reveal metabolic factory for active extrafloral nectar secretion by Acacia cornigera ant-plants. The Plant Journal. Vol. 73. Pages 546-554.
  • SEIGLER, D.; and J, EBINGER.
  • 1995
  • Taxonomic Revision of the Ant-Acacias (Fabaceae, Mimosoideae, Acacia, Series Gummiferae) of the New World. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Vol 82. No. 1. Pages 117-138.
  • WARD, P. S.
  • 1999
  • Systematics, biogeography and host plant associations of the Pseudomyrmex viduus group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), Triplaris- and Tachigali-inhabiting ants. Zool. J. Linn. Soc. Vol. 124. No. 4. Pages 451-540. Consultado el 6 de mayo de 2016.
    Disponible en: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0024408298901583

Useful website on Acacia spp.

http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/ant_acaciatree
Video of Acacia ants and trees.

www.phytoimages.siu.edu/cgi-bin/dol/dol_terminal.pl?taxon_name=Vachellia_cornigera&rank=binomial
Photos

http://herbario.up.ac.pa/Herbario/herb/vasculares/view/species/1910
Photos

 

 

Posted February 8, 2022 by Nicholas Hellmuth

 

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