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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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




Passion flower at the Chocón Machacas river

Posted September 17, 2021
















Passiflora biflora LAM.

At the beginning of the Río Chocón Machacas we find a very curious vine with small flowers it was a Passion flower.

Botanical characteristics of the flower: Its colors seem colored with watercolor. Its strains are green, petals white with purple, filaments are yellow, the androgynophor is green and the anthers come out of it, followed by the ovary and to finish their stigmas. This flower was observed by our boatman Cornelio Macz, who accompanied us on the September expedition.

Plant etymology: Passiflora was the generic name adopted by Linnaeus in 1753 and means "passion flower". Derived from the Latin passio which means "passion" and flos which means "flower". This was granted by the Jesuit missionaries in 1610, due to the similarity of some parts of the plant with religious symbols of the Passion of Christ, the whip with which he was beaten being the tendrils, the three nails represented by the styles; stamens and radial corolla being the crown of thorns. It receives the epithet ‘’ biflora’’ derived from the Latin meaning "with two flowers."

In Guatemala you can find 62 species of the Passiflora genus, the 10% are endemic from the country. The areas with the greatest diversity are those that oscillate between 1000-2000 masl in the following departments: Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Chiquimula, Guatemala and Sololá. Some of these species are vulnerable, so it’s important to continue with conservation efforts and support the natural reserves we have (De Macvean & Macdougal, 2012). They are important for the economy since some species are edible, other have medicinal properties and they are also valuable as ornamental flowers because of their beauty.

Passiflora biflora at Rio Chocon Machacas, El Golfete, Livingston. September, 2021. Photo by David Arrivillaga, FLAAR Mesoamerica.

Passiflora biflora at Rio Chocon Machacas, El Golfete, Livingston. September, 2021. Photo by David Arrivillaga, FLAAR Mesoamerica.


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




The curious flower of Barillo (Symphonia globulifera)

Posted September 16, 2021

Barillo (Symphonia globulifera) is a plant that you can find in the Livingston area in Izabal. This time we find it specifically in Black Creek. We found it very curious, since at first glance its flower looks like a fruit.

As we got closer and got to know her more, we realized that what we thought was her fruit was actually its flower. We hope to find more of this species and document it with more photographs.

About the uses of Barillo, it is known that the raw fruit is edible. The bark is taken as an appetizer, gentle laxative, stomachic and tonic. The resin is used externally to treat wounds; prevent skin infections and treat scabies. Sap from the leaves is sniffed up the nose to stop it bleeding. The resin is also used for making candles and torches and the wood is used for construction and as a fuel (Tropical Plants Database, 2013).

Symphonia globulifera at Black Creek, El Golfete, Livingston. September, 2021. Photo by Brandon Hidalgo, FLAAR Mesoamerica.

Part of the Plant

Botanical Description


Simple, whole and opposite, glossy, petiole 0.5 to 1 cm long.


They have terminal dascules, very abundant umbelliforms. The flowers are small, round, intense red and very showy, hermaphroditic reproduction.


Fruits in the form of globular or subspherical drupes of 3 cm to 5 cm in diameter, yellowish green when ripe.


Brown in color, one kilogram of seed contains approximately 350 viable seeds.



Flowers observed June - October and December to January.


Fruits observed almost all year round.


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




Gushnay, an edible plant on the trail to Mirador del Cañon Reserve

Posted August 16, 2021

On the trail to the Mirador del Cañon Reserve area we could observe Gushnay (Spathiphyllum blandum) blooming. According to many forest rangers, it is edible and there are also bibliographic references that confirm it. Chizmar (2009) in her publication Edible Plants of Central America, indicates that the inflorescence when it is tender is used to prepare a hot sauce: “Take from one to three inflorescences (depending on the desired quantity) and cook with salt for approximately 20 minutes or start to roast. Then they are macerated with some type of chili or spicy, tomato, onion, vinegar and a little water. The resulting sauce can be used with any meal.”

Gushnay or also called Yuk is a monocotyledonous plant of the Araceae family approximately one meter high, characterized by having a unique greenish-white bract with a greenish-colored spadix-shaped inflorescence. Its leaves are simple, densely grouped from the base and elliptical. Its fruits are green when ripe. It lives in humid forests, between altitudes of 800-1500 m and it is more likely to be found both in Izabal and in Alta Verapaz and Huehuetenango. We wanted to share more information about this plant with you since we will soon release a new animated episode of our division for children, MayanToons, where you will able to see its illustrated flower.




Spathiphyllum cochlearispathum

Spathiphyllum friedrichsthalii

Spathiphyllum phryniifolium

Spathiphyllum blandum

Spathiphyllum floribundum


Gushnay (Spathiphyllum blandum) at Reserva Cañon de Rio Dulce, Livingston. September, 2021.Photo by Brandon Hidalgo, FLAAR Mesoamerica.

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




Mountain papaya during the road to “Cueva del Tigre”, Livingston

Posted August 11, 2021

Cueva del Tigre is a place in Livingston that you must visit if you like adventure, explore caves, take a dip and of course learn more about flora and fauna. To get to this place you can do it from Río Tatin or ask a vehicle to take you from La Buga to Plan Grande Tatin. We took the route from La Buga, Plan Grande Tatin, hike to Cueva del Tigre and returned to Río Tatin where a boat was waiting for us.

During the pathway you can see different species such as Heliconia spp, Costus spp, Carica wild papaya, Attalea cohune (Corozo), Cecropia peltata (Guarumo) and what surprised us the most was to find Jacaratia dolichaula commonly called jungle “bonete”, mountain papaya or kumche in Q'eqchi language. As mentioned before it is commonly called mountain papaya, since it is a wild relative of papaya and belongs to the same family (CARICACEAE)

This species is within the FLAAR must to find, since several research indicate that it is possibly an edible species. In the future we hope to find more related species of papaya to document and promote their conservation, species such as:


Common name


Jacaratia mexicana



Vasconcellea cauliflora

Papaya cimarrona


Vasconcellea pubescens




Jacaratia dolichaula, bonete de selva trail parallel to Cueva del Tigre, Plan Grande tatin Livingston. First photo was taken by Victor Mendoza, FLAAR Mesoamerica. Second photo was taken by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth with a NikonD810 camera at 1:13pm Jul 31, 2021.

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




The seasonality of the dry forest of Guatemala

Posted August 10, 2021

When we imagine a forest, many times the first thing that comes to our mind is plenty green vegetation and lush trees. However, when we visit places with different climates, we are able to recognize other types of forests, such as the “seasonally dry” forest. It receives this name because the dry season and the rainy season are very pronounced in these territories. This seasonality is caused by a weather phenomenon called “rain shadow”. When the warm and humid wind travels from the coasts, it collides with the mountains, cooling and discharging water (windward). This is how the rain is formed in the upper parts of the mountains, creating humid or cloud forests, at this point the air is already dry and when it passes to the other side of the mountain it warms up and creates a current of dry and warm air that goes down to the valley, (leeward) generating the conditions of the dry forest.

Much of the vegetation in this forest is deciduous (shed leaves) in the dry season, so many plants flourish during the rainy season. Although we are not always able to distinguish several of the species that reside in this forest due to its seasonality, some of the most common that we can find are: Cactus of the genera Pereskia, Acanthocerus, Stenocereus, Nopalea, among others; Ceibas species such as Ceiba aesculifolia; the Mayflower (Plumeria rubra); the Palo de Jiote (Bursera simaruba); bromeliad species such as Bromelia pinguin and Bromelia hemisphaerica; among other species of flora and fauna which make this place unique and special. Every month when we go to Livingston in Izabal, we enjoy and make stops in this area, especially in Zacapa to continue documenting the beautiful biodiversity of the dry forest.



The dry forest in the dry season (April, 2021) and dry forest in the rainy season (July, 2021)". First photo is by Haniel Lopez and second photo is by Roxana Leal, FLAAR Mesoamerica.

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




Beach Morning Glory growing in the sand of Livingston

Posted August 9, 2021

During our July-August expedition in Livingston, at the beginning of Quehueche Beach, right next to the bridge that connects it with La Buga, Ipomoea pes-caprae, was documented. Commonly called “Campanilla de playa” in Spanish or “Beach Morning Glory” in English belonging to the Convolvulaceae family. This is a vine that grows in the ground with very showy purple flowers. It has a very thick root that can be 3 meters long and 5cm in diameter, forming a dense mat of low growth that eventually covers the soil completely. The stems can be 30 meters long. It is a plant that tolerates the salinity of the sand on the beaches, it has a great distribution since its seeds are dispersed by the water without being affected by salty water.

This vine is important, as it has different uses. The leaves are edible, cooked and eaten as a vegetable, alone or combined with other vegetebles. Roots are also edible, but in minor quantities because they are strongly laxative. The Beach Morning Glory, also has medicinal properties: leaves are anodyne, astringent, diuretic, emollient, laxative and tonic; the root is diuretic and laxative, as we already mention; the seeds are said to be good remedy for stomach-ache and cramp when chewed; and researches have shown some extracts from the stems has strong anti-tumor actions. It is a good option for ornament too, many times you can find Ipomoea species decorating gardens.

Have you seen this beautiful flower in the beach before?

Reference about uses and information:


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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