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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Water Snowflake waterlily flowers of Rio Dulce, Livingston

Posted April 06, 2020

The flowers of the Nymphoides indica waterlily plant have so much fluff and puff around their petals that they are called Water Snowflakes. These are photogenic especially with a 1:1 tele-macro lens.

Other gardeners use the name Floating Heart for these flowers of Nymphoides indica. I call them “Amazing Fuzzy-Fluffy Petalled waterlily flowers.”

While working together with the team of the Municipio de Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala, with the assistance of local guides, in mid-March 2020 we found entire fields of these waterlily plants in full bloom. Sometimes the Nymphoides indica were by themselves. In other nearby areas hundreds of Nymphoides indica were intermixed with the significantly larger white flowers of Nymphaea alba. In other nearby areas the Nymphaea alba were all by themselves.

We want to return to the Municipio de Livingston and document what other water plants are associated. We hope to find the literally miniature water plants Lemna minor and/or also Wolffia brasiliensis.


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Nymphoides indica Water Snowflake waterlily, El Golfete, north, area, near Lagunita Salvador, Google Pixel 3, Mar. 14, 2020, FLAAR-Mesoamerica (probably Juan Pablo).

We were doing field work on both sides of El Golfete, Biotope Chocon Machacas (CECON-USAC), nature reserve Lagunita Creek (CONAP and FUNDAECO), nature reserve Tapon Creek (CECON-USAC) and Rio Dulce Canyon during mid-March. Then the Coronavirus pandemic began with one or two cases in Guatemala so we returned to our offices in Guatemala City. As soon as things open back up, we will be back exploring the remarkable biodiversity and awesome ecosystems of the Municipio de Livingston working in coordination with the helpful and hospitable people there.




Aechmea tillandsioides, Municipio de Livingston, Bright red flowering epiphytic bromeliad

Posted Mar. 31, 2020


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Photo by David Arrivillaga with a Nikon D5- Lens 90mm f/2.8 G. Settings: 1/250 sec, f/10, ISO 640.

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Photo by David Arrivillaga with a Nikon D5- Lens 90mm f/2.8 G. Settings: 1/250 sec, f/9, ISO 640.

This arboreal bromeliad is common in Izabal, Peten, and probably adjacent Alta Verapaz and certainly in Belize. It grows on tree branches, but often is blown over in rainstorms, so sometimes you find Aechmea tillandsioides on the ground (or the branch + bromeliad land on the ground together so the bromeliad still has a perch).

Our team is working from home offices at the moment, but since it is also important to save the fragile endangered ecosystems, we continue making our material available to the almost half a million readers a year on this web site of FLAAR (USA) and FLAAR Mesoamerica (Guatemala).

If you come to the Municipio de Livingston, departamento of Izabal, Guatemala, Central America you can see, photography, study, and learn about Aechmea tillandsioides bromeliads on tree limbs along the shores of Rio Dulce Canyon, El Golfete area of Rio Dulce, and all nearby lagoons and inlets.




TREES of Municipio de Livingston are veritable Biodiverse Ecosystems

Posted Mar. 25, 2020


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Although this great white heron is a water bird, it spends much of the day on a tree. Here it is keeping its eye focused on our boat as we transit the Canyon de Rio Dulce (from El Golfete to village of Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala, Central America). So trees are important to help birds (and trees are important to protect our planet)

Trees are needed by birds as a place to perch, place to find edible food, place to make nests to raise their families.

Trees are needed by vines to allow vines and lianas to get high to reach sunlight.

Tree limbs are helpful supports for orchids, bromeliads, ferns, and arboreal cactus vines (no terrestrial cacti are native in Municipio de Livingston rain forests: only cacti that climb trees).

Tree roots are often above ground since “ground” is limestone karst geology (so not much soil).

Tree bark comes in every color and structure you can imagine; tree trunks are hosts to mushrooms, lichens, ferns, vines, and lots of other plants.

Even though the Neotropical rain forests of the nature reserves of Livingston are not in New Hampshire (USA) or Canada, the leaves change colors: bright reds, copper-reds, yellows (all year long a different tree has their leaves change colors). So you can visit this part of Guatemala any month of the year and you will experience different colors.

So we at FLAAR (USA) and FLAAR Mesoamerica are devoting more field trips and library research on the native trees of Guatemala. We have just added a new web page on trees (and the complete report will be ready in April)

Although this great white heron is a water bird, it spends much of the day on a tree. Here it is keeping its eye focused on our boat as we transit the Canyon de Rio Dulce (from El Golfete to village of Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala, Central America). So trees are important to help birds (and trees are important to protect our planet)




Calathea crotalifera, Biotope Chocon Machacas, Municipio de Livingston

Posted Mar. 24, 2020

Last week, while visiting Biotope Chocon Machacas, Lourdes Wallace discovered an area of many heliconia relatives. These relatives of heliconia are named Calathea crotalifera. These are wild, native plants (this is not a garden of a fancy hotel).

We are preparing a full report on these gorgeous flowers of Calathea crotalifera. As soon as this photo essay is available, we will link to it. In the meantime we wish to thank Ing. Daniel Esaú Pinto Peña, Alcalde of Livingston (Izabal, Guatemala) for the cooperation of his team in this nice Caribbean area of Guatemala. We thank Edwin Mármol Quiñonez, Coordinación de Cooperación de Livingston, for organizing the local support for these botanical and zoological research field trips. And is was great that Juana Lourdes Wallace Ramírez, Asistente Administrativo, Coordinación de Cooperación de Livingston, was with our team of FLAAR Mesoamerica every day. She is the one who happened to see these gorgeous flowers: they were not on the hiking trail, so without her we would not have seen them.

The full report will also have photographs by María Alejandra Gutierrez and David Arrivilaga (both are experienced photographers at FLAAR Mesoamerica).


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Calathea crotalifera flowers, Biotope Chocon Machacas, Municipio de Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala, Central America.

Photograph by Nicholas Hellmuth (FLAAR Mesoamerica) with Nikon D810 camera.




Cacao flavoring, cordoncillo, Piper amalago

Posted Mar. 12, 2020

While assisting the Municipio de Livingston, Izabal, we noted cordoncillo around the entrance houses at Biotopo Chocon Machacas (north side of El Golfete, Rio Dulce, Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala).

There are hundreds of species of Piper in Guatemala and nearby countries of Central America. Many different species are called cordoncillo. So on our field trips we include Q'eqchi' Mayan plant scouts (people who know which plant is which).

Santa Maria is another Piper that is edible.


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We have found many different Piper species in the Municipio of Livingston, Izabal, but so far, not even in the kitchen gardens, we have not yet identified any Piper amalgo or Piper auritum. The large-leaf Piper that is locally named Santa Maria is easier to find and easier to recognize: this is present in Izabal.

We will continue searching for the cordoncillo, the Piper used to flavor cacao a thousand years ago. But in the meantime, here is a snapshot of one of the many species of Piper visible along the roads and trails near the town of Livingston.




More palms in plants of the Mayan world in Muni Livingston, Izabal

Posted Mar. 23, 2020

Found more palm species in Lagunita Creek nature reserve than expected. CONAP together with FUNDAECO do a great job maintaining the nice hiking trails and providing guide service.

The team of the Municipio of Livingston kindly provided a boat and guide to take us to this nature research near the mouth of the Rio Sarstun (so south of the Peten-Belize border, with Amatique Bay to the east).


If you are a botanist, a student of biology, or otherwise like to hike through a Neotropical rain forest, we highly recommend that you visit Lagunita Creek nature reserve.

You can find a boat in the village of Livingston. There is no way to drive or hike to the entrance of this nature reserve; boat is the only access.

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When you are hiking the trails at Lagunita Creek nature reserve you will find many of the plants of the Mayan world. I found more different species of palms here than in other areas that I have visited. Photo by Nicholas Hellmuth, FLAAR Mesoamerica, iPhone Xs, Mar. 12, 2020.

On our next visit I would like to spend an entire day at Lagunita Creek, and reserve a second separate entire day for Área Protegida Parque Ecoturístico Tapon Creek that is a few minutes away (the ecosystems here are different even though not far away).

But if your schedule is tight, visit both Lagunita Creek and Tapon Creek on the same day (as we did our first visit, since in advance I had no idea of the biodiversity we would find in both areas).

We thank Ing. Daniel Esaú Pinto Peña, Alcalde of Livingston (Izabal, Guatemala) for the cooperation provided by him and the team of the Municipio de Livingston. We thank Edwin Mármol Quiñonez, Coordinación de Cooperación de Livingston (Izabal, Guatemala), for introducing our team and our project potential to the Alcalde.

We appreciate the cooperation of Juana Lourdes Wallace Ramírez, Asistente Administrativo, Coordinación de Cooperación de Livingston, for organizing the day-by-day transportation and logistics for our team. Lourdes also accompanies us each day of each field trip.




Lots of palms to find in Municipio de Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala

Posted Mar. 11, 2020

In theory there may be up to 35 palm species in the Caribbean area of the Municipio de Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala. Our field trips will seek to find and accomplish high resolution photography of as many palm species as possible. So far we have found the easy ones: escoba palm (fronds used to make brooms), tasiste that like lots of water nearby (here called pimientillo), bayal (palm that's a spiny vine), and thousands of corozo palm. Lots of kala which looks identical to a small guano palm; but kala is neither a palm nor even related.

We will be publishing our finds month by month.




Pure White Lily, wild, in the forests of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

Posted March 03, 2020

No pharmaceutical companies 2000 years ago. The Maya, Xinca (and Aztec, Toltec, Zapotec, etc) had plenty of medicine from local plants. Much of our modern medicine also comes from plants, of the Middle East, Asia, Africa and EU (of course most is now chemicals, manufactured in factories).

This attractive white lily, Eucharis bouchei, is the wild native Guatemalan relative of the garden plant Eucharis amazonica from Peru). Eucharis bouchei has medicinal properties. Would be helpful if more modern medicine could learn from the over 500 native medicinal plants of the Maya (potentially over 600). FLAAR Mesoamerica notes every medicinal plant that are teams find. We will be exploring remote areas of the Municipio of Livingston later in March.

Pokomchi Mayan plant scout Norma Estefany Cho Cu found these Eucharis bouchei lily flowers in the forests near the home of her parents, Caserio Chilocom, Municipio Santa Cruz Verapaz, Alta-Verapaz, Guatemala, on Feb. 25, 2020. FLAAR (USA) provided a Google Pixel 3XL smart phone camera to FLAAR Mesoamerica (Guatemala) so the plant scouts can take better photos out in the field.




Municipio of Livingston has remarkable bio-diversity of plants to study

Posted Feb. 21, 2020

Last week the Alcalde and his team of Livingston took us around to get to learn more about the bio-diversity of flora and fauna of this Caribbean part of Guatemala, Central America. Having been visiting Guatemala since age 17 (and visiting rain forests and Maya ruins of Mexico since age 16), in the circa 59 years of experience in Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Peten, and Alta Verapaz (plus dozens of other areas: Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador), I was frankly amazed and impressed by the Neotropical ecosystems of the Municipio of Livingston: karst geology (so lots of caves like in much of Mesoamerica), rivers, lakes, lagoons, swamps (but also mangrove swamps, not common elsewhere outside of the Pacific Coast). Hills, flatlands, and everything in between.

Even though we had only two days time in Livingston area (plus one day in Morales and two days driving back-and-forth to Guatemala City, we can now sense the potential of Biotope Chocon Machacas CECON-USAC. Wow, plants, mosses, bromeliads, vines, mushrooms, lichens (plus all the living organisms underwater). And Rio Sarstun has even more (that would be our next field trip goal).

My heart is dedicated to Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo (Peten), and the cloud forests of Alta Verapaz have kept me busy for many years of botanical field work. But the Municipio of Livingston is also “one of the most impressive areas for botanical, zoological, and ecological research I can imagine.

The Alcalde of Livingston, Daniel Esaú Pinto Peña, is developing projects to assist the local Q’eqchi’ Mayan and Garifuna people in his Municipio (Departamento of Izabal, Guatemala). The individual for outreach of these projects is Edwin Mármol Quiñonez, Coordinación de Cooperación de Livingston. He came to visit the headquarters and research facilities of FLAAR Mesoamerica in Guatemala City. Based on what he saw he invited our team of botany and ecology and biology students and photographers to visit Livingston.

Chocon machacas FLAAR Mesoamerica Livingston

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Here are 20 photos of flora and fauna just from one small part of Biotopo Chocon Machacas, based on just 2 hours hike. There are HUNDREDS more flowering plants, orchids, etc. to see if you spend more time here (or in the other biodiverse ecosystems of Municipio of Livingston).

There is material for theses in any and every topic you can imagine; material for PhD dissertations, peer-reviewed journal articles. Plus for people around the world who wish to experience photogenic flora and fauna—come visit Livingston ecosystems. We hope to return to the Municipio of Livingston and continue our research for the coming four years (5 to 10 days per month; average of 10 months per year; four years).




Potential edible root crop for the Classic Maya in past centuries: Xanthosoma robustum, Marac (in Q’eqchi’ Mayan in Alta Verapaz)

Posted Feb 06, 2020

In many parts of Mesoamerica (Mexico southward) Xanthosoma robustum roots are considered edible if you cook them. But in much of Alta Verapaz and Peten (Guatemala), the roots are simply considered toxic and not eaten any more since so many modern fruits and vegetables are sold in all the Mayan village markets: carrots, potatoes, etc.

We (FLAAR in USA and FLAAR Mesoamerica in Guatemala) are studying root crops, to significantly improve the helpful 1966 list of edible roots of the Classic Maya by Bennet Bronson. So one of our Q’eqchi’ Mayan plant scouts, Pedro, went to find Xanthosoma robustum near where he lives (several kilometers into the mountains from Senahu, Alta Verapaz). He found an ample area with several hundred Xanthosoma robustum plants alongside the dirt road towards Panzos (to Trece Aguas area, a turnoff from the highway from Rio Polochic up to Senahu).

He said that most of the Xanthosoma robustum plants are chopped down to clear land for milpas or for other agriculture spaces, so you rarely any more can find mature plants. So he said the mature plants with full-sized leaves we will have to do lots more scouting to find. But on the first day of February we at least found one leaf 1.23 length by .81 meters width. Senaida Ba, another of our helpful Q’eqchi’ Mayan plant scouts found a leaf which we measured to be 1.51 by .97 meters.

Morning Glory Vines and Flowers of Yaxha Morning Glory Vines and Flowers of Yaxha

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Xanthosoma robustum leaf 1.51 by .97 meters

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Xanthosoma robustum leaf 1.23 length by .81 meters width

Sixty years ago there were mature plants to find full-sized leaves. So the botanical monograph Flora of Guatemala documents Xanthosoma robustum size as: “leaf blades sagittate-ovate, often two meters long but usually shorter,…” (Standley and Steyermark 1958: 360). WOW, we definitely look forward to finding a TWO meter long leaf. We have found leaves of Heliconia mariae much longer (but not as wide as a Xanthosoma leaf).


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Parque Nacional Yaxha, Nakum and Naranjo

Smartphone Camera Reviews

Fungi and Lichens

Botanical Terms

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)

Fruits (vines or cacti)

Flowers, sacred

Plants or trees that are used to produce incense

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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Tikal Related Reports


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