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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Cattail (Thypa dominguensis) a macrophyte documented of Livingston

Posted November 5, 2021

Thypa domingensis is an emerging rooted macrophyte, which we have seen in several areas of Livingston. This time it was documented in Laguna Grande. If you open its simple stem, you can see fiber inside which tulle can be made.


Cattail (Thypa dominguensis) at Laguna Grande, Rio Sarstun, Livingston. October, 2021. Photo by Dr. Nicholas Hellmuth with iPhone 12 Pro Max, FLAAR Mesoamerica.

Typha domingensis Pers. It is a very striking plant and is frequently found in continental water bodies and on occasions it is used as a phytoremediation due to its nutrient absorption capacity to avoid accelerated eutrophication in water bodies or in wastewater treatment plants. It is described as an aquatic herb, leaves generally equaling or exceeding the height of the spikes, attenuated pods towards the blade up to 1.5 m long and 0.8 to 1.3 cm wide, acute apex. Its inflorescences are in the form of light monero spica with foliaceous bracts. The male spike is up to 42 cm long and 1.5 cm wide, generally separated from the female. The fruits are spindle-shaped, 1 to 1.5 mm long.

Typha domingensis it is commonly known as: Cattail, tule, tulle, body of water, cat's tail, breast tail, petalzmicua, savanna candle, tulle or passion reeds.

This species is often used for basketry and handicrafts. It is also used as fodder for animal feed, it also has medicinal properties for the treatment of the skin in issues of hair loss and burns. It can be used as shingle straw and as an ornamental ornament.

















Typha dominguensis

Common names

Cattail, tule, tulle, body of water, cat's tail, breast tail, petalzmicua, savanna candle, tulle or passion reeds.ypha


Written by Vivian Hurtado & Roxana Leal
Identified Species by Victor Mendoza




Red Mangroove an essential species for mangrove ecosystems

Posted November 5, 2021

When we were navigating through the entrance of Laguna Grande we could observe different structures of the red mangrove in which we could highlight the tiny yellow flowers and two red mangrove fruits. We had not had the opportunity to photograph these ripe fruits and the intense red color they present is incredible.

The red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) is a tree species of the Rizophoraceae family typical of mangrove ecosystems. It is commonly called red mangrove, Colorado mangrove, chifle mangrove, zapotero mangrove or cunapo.

Different uses are attributed to Rhizophora mangle



Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) at Laguna Grande, Rio Sarstun, Livingston. October, 2021. Photo by Roxana Leal with iPhone 13 Pro Max, FLAAR Mesoamerica.



Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) at Laguna Grande, Rio Sarstun, Livingston. October, 2021. Photo by Victor Mendoza with Sony RX10, FLAAR Mesoamerica.


Part of the plant












Wood and leaves (for ceillings)




Cortex, leaves and root



Botanical Description


Prenifolio tree of saline habitat, 15 m high up to 30 m.


Simple inflorescence of 2 to 3 flowers, actinomorphic and the corolla is about 1.8 cm


Brown berry about 2 to 3 cm long by 1.5 wide


Alternate up to 25 cm long, composed of rachis with up to 5 to 15 pairs of secondary axes with narrow leaflets of up to 11mm.


It has viviparity (the seed germinates within the fruit). Green color, it measures between 22 and 40 cm long and between 1 and 2 cm in diameter.


It has fulcreatic, branched, arched and curved roots where modified roots called stilts develop.

Fruits and seeds

Opposite and simple, agglomerate form measuring 8 to 15 cm long and 4 to 6 wide.

Importance of mangroves:

  • They protect biodiversity, since they serve as a refuge, feeding and reproduction area for many terrestrial and aquatic, migratory and local species.
  • Its roots are of great importance because they can fix sediments and regulate erosion, protecting coastal marine areas because they hold mud and help to extend the mainland. They have a high carbon storage capacity in plant tissue.
  • Serve as natural barriers against tropical storms and hurricanes.
  • Mangrove ecosystems serve as natural filters as they absorb a large amount of nutrients in the water in order to prevent eutrophication.
  • They maintain the quality of the water. They work as a filter for some pollutants.
  • They are of great economic importance due to the fishing species that they harbor.

Written by Vivian Hurtado & Roxana Leal
Identified Species by Victor Mendoza




Calliandra houstoniana a fascinating flower

Posted November 4, 2021

Laguna Grande is a lagoon found in the Río Sarstún area. On our first expedition day in October we sailed along the shore to document the species of flora and fauna that inhabit the place. Calliandra (Calliandra houstoniana) was one of the most photogenic flowers we found. This flower is color red and with the air you can see how its stamens fly, that is why it is normally angel hair, old man's beard, angel head, cinnamon stick, cinnamon, coquito or angel grass (names in Spanish).

Calliandra houstoniana is a shrub that grows on the edges of plots and banks of some bodies of water both in the tropics and in temperate parts, in areas with an average annual temperature between 22 and 28 ° C. It is a native plant of Mexico and Central America. This plant belonging to the Fabaceae family, however, its genus is still under discussion as it is also related to the genera Acacia, Anneslia and even Mimosa.

It is used for shade in coffee plantations and in agroforestry systems, as livestock feed, green manure and a source of firewood. The bark is considered medicinal



Calliandra (Calliandra houstoniana) at Laguna Grande, Rio Sarstun, Livingston. October, 2021. Photo by Dr. Nicholas Hellmuth, FLAAR Mesoamerica.

Botanical Description




Up to 6 m high.


Few thin erect branches where it blooms.


Alternate up to 25 cm long, composed of rachis with up to 5 to 15 pairs of secondary axes with narrow leaflets of up to 11mm.


Set of 3 to 5 sessile flowers in the form of a terminal panicle.


Showy red stamens, thicker red style, white miniature petals.

Fruits and seeds

Legumes up to 12cm reddish brown covered with trichomes with oblong, flattened seeds.

Written by Vivian Hurtado & Roxana Leal
Identified Species by Victor Mendoza




Reserva de la Biosfera Maya (Peten, Guatemala) is great place to do research on Plants of every size, shape, and flower color, plus ferns, lichen, mushrooms

Posted October 15, 2021

After accomplishing research with the co-administrators and park rangers of Parque Nacional Yaxha, Nakum and Naranjo (PNYNN) from August 2018 through July 2019 we were asked to return for a larger project of cooperation and coordination with CONAP in this park plus adjacent parks and biotope nature reserves plus the overall Reserva de la Biosfera Maya.

So for the first year of this new flora, fauna, and ecosystem research project we are visiting different areas one by one to help us plan the subsequent years. We have done field trips to Cerro Cahui, Bio Itza, Biotopo San Miguel la Palotada and the southeast part of Parque Nacional Laguna del Tigre. We go with local people on each field trip since this is a project of cooperation and coordination and we visit with the administrators. There are several other national parks that we would like to assist when time and funding are available.

Today we would like to share with botanists, ecologists, and other interested professors, students and interested general public the initial results of first stage field work on seasonally inundated savannas. Bajo vegetation is already sell studied by multiple projects by Guatemalan archaeologists, ecologists and partners from universities in several other countries. Hillside and hilltop vegetation has been studied by Cyrus Lundell in the 1930’s, Dennis Puleston in the 1960’s, and lots of capable ecologists and archaeologists in recent decades. So we are focused on studying savannas, swamps, marshes, riversides, lakesides and other areas

FLAAR report on ground level photography

FLAAR report on helpful drone photography

These FLAAR reports are literally only the beginning of our dedicated coverage. I am especially interested in all plant species of these seasonally inundated areas. We also photograph any insect or other creature that we find.

All reports will also be published in Spanish as soon as possible.

This report has one of our user-friendly maps to show you where Biotopo Cero Cahui is located and thus how you can easily get here.




Vegetation changes noticeably as the Yaxha lake water level and nearby lagoons rises and falls every several years

Posted October 11, 2021

All the lakes, lagoons, and inlets in the chain from Laguna Sacnab to Laguna Champoxte at the far west of the park (PNYNN) have water levels that rise and fall. In dry years there are massive areas of former mud bottoms that turn into biodiverse fields of vegetation: we have found “cuscuta mimic savannas” of Cassytha filiformis on the south shore of Lake Yaxha and thick “morning glory vine fields” where the inlet named Laguneta Julequito is.

So we are featuring this inlet of Lake Yaxha on the front cover of our brief initial introduction to the unstudied lakes and lagoons at the southwest part of Parque Nacional Yaxha, Nakum and Naranjo.

This report will be replaced by new FLAAR reports using our fresh drone photos of:

  • Laguneta La Guitarra (Laguneta El Juleque)
  • Laguneta Lancaja (Laguneta Lancaha)
  • Laguneta Perdida (Laguneta of 3 Conjoined Cenotes) that we show in our report on the Savanna of 3 Fern Species

This coming week we will be accomplishing drone photography of the Southwest Cenote, the Northwest Cenote, Rio Ixtinto and the shore areas between and around them (so the far west end of Lake Yaxha). The middle and east ends of Lake Yaxha are so easy to see that they don’t need special reports at the moment.

16 page introduction to the lagoons, lagunetas west of Lake Yaxha and the inlet of Lake Yaxha (at its southwest part).

We show satellite views, printed government maps, and introductory bibliography to document which of these lagoons are missing from 90% of maps and 99% of ecological research projects.

Much more coming but we wanted to show what we are working on.




Lots of remarkable Neotropical Flowering Plants to see and photograph in Biotopo Cerro Cahui

Posted October 6, 2021

If you are interested in ethnobotany, Biotopo Cerro Cahai is a place with lots of different plants. For example, we found many edible cauliflorous fruits of Parmentiera aculeata, cuajilote. This tree fruits and flowers directly from the trunk. The flowers are similar size and unusual shape as the cauliflorous flowers of Crescentia cujete (jicara) and Crescentia alata (morro).

We include a list of 27 species of wild plants native to this part of the Reserva de la Biosfera Maya that are edible.

We try to have all our FLAAR reports in both Spanish and in English.

This report has one of our user-friendly maps to show you where Biotopo Cero Cahui is located and thus how you can easily get here.




Documenting botanically interesting trees, vines, shrubs, herbs, water plants in remote unexplored areas of Peten as our 5-year (2021-2025) field work continues

Posted October 4, 2021

Our 15-month project in the eastern half of Izabal area of Guatemala has evolved to focusing on wetlands vegetation and habitats: swamps, marshes, riverside ecosystems, lake and lagoon side ecosystems, and the biodiverse areas inland starting several meters from the Caribbean Beach (of Amatique Bay). This Municipio de Livingston area project has three more months before this phase is completed.

My immersion in wetlands of Izabal has motivated me to focus on wetlands of the Reserva de Biosfera Maya (RBM). The RBM is the entire northern half of Peten: from Lake Peten Itza at the south all the way up to the Peten-Campeche border at the north; and from the Peten-Chiapas border at the west across to the Peten-Belize border at the east.

Since savannas of RBM are seasonally inundated (as are the adjacent bajos, tintal areas that surround the grassland savannas), I am including savannas in our coverage of wetlands. We have documented several remarkable savannas during our 2018-2019 project in PNYNN (Parque Nacional Yaxha, Nakum and Naranjo). Now we continue there plus are expanding to cover the entire project area: Reserva de la Biosfera Maya (RBM). So in August we visited two savannas in the far southeast part of Parque Nacional Laguna del Tigre (PNLT). We focus on the far southeast because 99% of previous helpful ecological, botanical, and zoological research by other professors in this park has been at the west and northwest.


Today we wish to share the video of “Dr Nicholas” (Hellmuth) entering for the first time a grassland savanna never studied by any geographer, ecologist or botanist that we are aware of.

This was filmed by Boris Llamas and Andrea Bocamonte of FLAAR Mesoamerica and produced by Camila Morales of anima.works and expanded by video production specialist Sofia Monzon (who worked with FLAAR and with FLAAR Mesoamerica many past years).





Callingcard vine (Entada polystachya) in Chocón Machacas

Posted September 29, 2021

Throughout the Chocón Machacas River you can find Callingcard vine (Entada polystachya) or in Spanish “bejuco de agua”, “bejuco Prieto”. It is a plant that seems to be very spongy and can be observed in 3 colors: green, white and brown. The buttons are green and when they open they turn white and brown. Its fruits are legumes, that means, pods. It is a plant with a foul odor.


Ecology: Tall climbing shrub, no spines present. The flowers are grouped and very flowered clusters are seen, depending on their stage of development, it turns into different colors. The fruits are pods that are 5 to 6cm wide.

Distribution: Native to tropical America. It lives in a warm climate between 550 and 800 meters above sea level. It is associated with disturbed vegetation derived from mangroves, tropical deciduous forest, grassland, and thorn forest. This means that it is a very adaptable plant to different ecosystems.

Ethnobotany uses: The ground seeds of this species are used to apply topically, it is used to prevent hair loss; the soaked root to wash the hair; and stem water in eye infections. A slightly sweet, pale yellow resin is obtained from the tree and sometimes it is used as a dye.














Entada polystachya

Written by Vivian Hurtado & Roxana Leal
Identified Species by Victor Mendoza




Cafecillo (Casearia aculeata) a cauliflory plant

Posted September 28, 2021

Cafecillo (Casearia aculeata) is a very showy plant, its fruit is very peculiar since it is green on the outside and on the inside it is red with an orange seed. When you touch the red color inside the fruit it stains your finger a bit, although it is removed quickly. Its flower is white and has three petals. This species was photographed in Río Chocón Machacas, Livingston, Izabal.

It is a species of tree of the SALICACEAE family, it is distributed in flooded areas in both the Pacific and Atlantic areas. It is a species that is found from Mexico to Panama and in the Antilles, and part of South America. It is a spiny, evergreen shrub or small tree, usually growing 2 - 3 m tall, but with occasional specimens to 10 m.

It is a kind of cauliflory plant, this means that the flowers are born directly from the stems. Where axillary buds that have the potential to form inflorescences originate, they are located at the angle or axilla, between the stem and the petiole of the leaves.



Photography by: David Arrivillaga, Chocon Machacas (2021)


The fruits serve as food for birds. The wood is used for firewood as energy. It is an ornamental commonly used for living fences. (Mahecha, E. 2004) This species is given the name "devil's coffee" because it is accused of being poisonous. It has high alkaloid content so it is used as a pesticide. (Pérez Arbelaez, E. 1996).















Casearia aculeata


Cafecillo, capilin, jiga

Written by Vivian Hurtado & Roxana Leal
Identified Species by Victor Mendoza




Macrophyte photographed with the new underwater equipment

Posted September 27, 2021

On the last day of the September expedition of the Biodiversity of Livingston project part of the team went to visually document underwater species in Cañon del Río, Río Dulce, Livingston area. We found aquatic plants.

We use the new underwater photography equipment a SONY RX100 VII camera, a SONY Underwater Housing MPK-URX100A, and a Weefine Ring Light 1000. Here we show you the results.


new-equipment-water-plants-aquatic-canon-rio-dulce-livingston Potamogeton-illinoensis-Canon-de-Rio-Dulce-Livingston

Brandon Hidalgo and Victor Mendoza using the new underwater photography equipment.

Potamogeton illinoensis photographed by Victor Mendoza using the Sony RX100, Cañon de Rio Dulce.

Macrophytes are characterized by have been adapted to aquatic life, which is why they have a thin epidermis, dysfunctional stomata and little lignified elements. They inhabit lagoons, dams, swamps, riverbanks, lakes and even the seas. These are important since they serve as a filter for nutrients in water bodies, in addition to producing oxygen and can maintain the ecological balance in their aquatic habitat.

In Rio Dulce, different macrophytes were found, among which Potamogeton illinoensis, Vallisneria americana, Nymphaea ampla, and an introduced species called Hydrilla sp.



Emerging rooted macrophytes

They are rooted at the bottom of the water body, but their leaf and flora parts emerge from the water.

Floating rooted macrophytes

They are rooted at the bottom of the body of water and their foliar and floral parts only float in the mirror of the water.

Submerged Rooted Macrophytes

They are rooted at the bottom of the body of water and their foliar and floral psartes are submerged in the water.

Floating macrophytes

They are floating in the mirror of the water and their roots are not anchored to the bottom of the body of wáter.

Written by Vivian Hurtado & Roxana Leal
Identified Species by Victor Mendoza


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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

Ethnobotany site page Donations acknowled Botton DONATE NOW


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

4x4 Pickup Truck Reviews, Evaluations and Suggestions

Tikal Related Reports


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