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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Mangroves, one of the most important ecosystems in the world

Posted August 4, 2021

Livingston stands out for the biodiversity of species that inhabit its area. Something that you can find very often is the Mangrove. During these 11 months exploring the lakes, rivers and beaches we have been able to document 4 types of mangroves. Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), White mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), Black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) and Button mangrove also called Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus). Each one has interesting potential uses, for example, from Buttonwood, Black mangrove and white Mangrove is extracted the bark for tanning animal skins, meanwhile the Red mangrove is used for house construction, fences, tanning skins, dye colorants and the roots are edible.

Fact: Even if the 4 species are called “mangrove”, they belong to different families as you can see in the next table:

Common name

Scientific name


Black mangrove

Avicennia germinans


White mangrove

Laguncularia racemosa


Button mangrove

Conocarpus erectus


Red mangrove

Rhizophora mangle


Mangroves are one of the most important ecosystems in the world, they are valued approximately at $194,000 per hectare annually, according to Costanza et al (2014). Its importance relates principally with the shelter that provide to different species, that’s why are considered biodiversity hotspots; and also because the livelihoods that represent for many local communities. Additional to this, mangroves create living barriers that serve as a natural coastal defense against storm surges, tsunamis, sea-level rise, and erosion, serve as a “nursery” or refuge for the young of a large number of species. And not only this, but, mangroves are essential to maintaining water quality, because its roots can filter and trap sediments or pollutants, preventing contamination of downstream waterways and protecting different habitats, such as coral reefs. Finally, mangroves help to regulate the weather and annually sequester carbon at a rate two to four times greater than mature tropical forests and store three to five times more carbon per equivalent area than tropical forests (IOC-UNESCO).

Avicennia germinans mangle negro at aldea San Juan, Livingston. July, 2021.Photo by Guillermo Cuz, FLAAR Mesoamerica.

Conocarpus erectus mangle botoncillo fruit at Rio Sarstun, Livingston. February, 2021. Photo by David Arrivillaga, FLAAR Mesoamerica.

Laguncularia racemosa mangle blanco green fruits at Playa Quehueche, Livingston. Photo was taken with a Sony RX10 camera, 6mm lens, at 9:32 am, July 29,2021. Photo by Victor Mendoza, FLAAR Mesoamerica.

Rhizophora mangle mangrove red mangle rojo at Lagunita Creek, Livingston. Photo by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth, July 3,2021.

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




Selenicereus testudo at La Esmeralda, Rio Dulce Livingston

Posted July 14, 2021

During the June expedition for the Livingston Biodiversity Project, Izabal, we observed Selenicereus testudo, a species of cactus found on the branch of trees. On our third day we had the joy of seeing two flowers of this species. Something that we had not seen in the previous months. According to Véliz in “Las Cactáceas de Guatemala” (2008), the species occurs in Chiquimula, Izabal, Zacapa, Alta Verapaz and Petén. Its flowering is nocturnal and happens between April and October.

The same author also mentions that Guatemala is one of the three entities in the Mesoamerican region with the greatest richness of cacti, the other two are the State of Chiapas, Mexico and Costa Rica. In the Guatemalan territory there are 48 native species plus 4 intraspecific categories.

FLAAR Mesoamerica’s team has documented this species in Parque Nacional Yaxha, Nakum y Naranjo. You can find more information here.

Photographed by David Arrivillaga with a Sony A1 using a FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS lens at Rio Dulce. Settings: 1/400 sec, f/9, ISO 1600.

Photographed by David Arrivillaga with a Sony A1 using a FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS lens at Rio Dulce. Settings: 1/400 sec, f/10, ISO 1600.

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




Trees that flower from trunk or main branches

Posted April 23, 2021

With the help of the Garifuna team of George and his team of Where the Pirates Hide, on the outskirts of the town of Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala, we were able to photograph this remarkable local native tree.




Wetlands ecosystems of the rivers, lakes, and Caribbean Coast

Posted April 20, 2021

This presentation will be in Spanish starting 10 am this Saturday, 24 April.

Though obviously nothing is there until Saturday morning. If you wish to be on our mailing list, please write us FrontDesk at FLAAR.org




March field trip to Municipio de Livingston produces botanical success every day

Posted March 25, 2021

Grias cauliflora tree has flowers on trunk and branches, so this tree is cauliflorous (same as Theobroma cacao, and Crescentia cujete, and Crescentia alata).

The March 2021 ethnobotanical and zoology field trip is the west end of Canyon Rio Dulce and east half of El Golfete, Municipio de Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala, Central America.

Here is David, Haniel and Nicholas with helpful assistants doing the photography of the cauliflorous branches and trunk of Grias cauliflora tree. We have Sony, Nikon, and Canon cameras and every kind of macro lens: 35mm, 50mm, 60mm, 105mm, 200mm Nikon tele-macro, and 180mm Canon tele-macro. Plus a 5X Canon super-macro lens system.




Edible plants for the Classic Mayan people from swamps, marshes, riverside and lake side ecosystems

Posted March 18, 2021

We have been accomplishing field work in the wetlands of the Municipio de Livingston, Izabal, the far eastern side of Guatemala, Central America. We have found dozens of plants, with edible fruits or other edible parts, growing in the marshes, swamps, above the sandy beaches (into the mangrove swamps), and along the edges of rivers, lagoons and estuaries.

We show here the names of the first 26 edible wetlands plants that we have learned about so far. We have found and photographed at least 23 of these and hope to find the missing species in our upcoming field trips.

First we will publish the six edible plants that grow near the sandy coastal areas and within the mangrove swamps near the coast. Then in April we will do another category, and my May or June hope to have all 26 published, with abundant photographs in high-resolution. But at least now we can show you the 26 edible plants.

Shows the Genus species name, and common name, of each edible plant.

Shows in three habitats: coastal sand and mangrove swamps.

Edible plants in marshes.

Edible fruits of trees that grow along the edges of swamps, rivers, and/or lagoons.

Shows the front covers with sample photograph of those trees and plants that we have found and photographed during February and March 2020, then October, November, December 2020, then January and February 2021.

We will be back in these wetlands from 21 March through 28 March to do more field work.

The Maya did not need raised field agriculture engineering work to grow these plants. The Maya did not need drained field agriculture or local variations of chinampas. The Maya did not need to chop everything down to plant these 26 species: all grow naturally and happily by themselves and produce edible fruits and other edible parts every year.




Vanilla orchid vines are flowering in several parts of Municipio de Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala

Posted March 18, 2021

Our team in their office in the town of Livingston (Caribbean area at end of Rio Dulce) was kindly notified independently by two different people who have wild vanilla orchid vines giving flower this month:

  • George Reneau, of the finca Where the Pirates Hide, on the outskirts of the town of Livingston.
  • Cristobal Ic, of Aldea Buena Vista Tapon Creek (a Q’eqchi’ Mayan village near the coast of Amatique Bay)



Flower of wild vanilla orchid vine, Where the Pirates Hide, outside town of Livingston, Izabal, March 2021.

Photograph by Victor Mendoza, FLAAR Photo Archive of Flora.



Flower of wild vanilla orchid vine, Aldea Buena Vista Tapon Creek, Municipio de Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala, March 2021.

Photograph by Maria Alejandra Gutierrez, FLAAR Photo Archive of Flora.




Amazing fungus, we have never seen this in Guatemala before

Posted February 22, 2021

In my 50+ years in Peten, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Belize, Izabal, and Alta Verapaz I have never seen this mushroom until park ranger Teco (Moises Daniel Perez Diaz) send me these photographs today.

He said they are still small, and will continue to grow.

This is why it would he helpful to return to Parque Nacional Yaxha, Nakum and Naranjo to use macro high-resolution cameras to photograph these. I would also like to record this one with 3D scanner.




Flower starts pure white; turns pure chocolate; is also cauliflorous

Posted February 18, 2021

This tree is worth visiting when it is in full flower. The Bellucia pentamera flowers are of photogenic size and shape. The petals are pure white when they open. As the flower matures, it turns bright rust color and then to light chocolate brown color as it wilts. The browner phase we show on our full page.

Plus, this Bellucia pentamera tree flowers directly from the main branches, so is cauliflorous (however we have not yet seen it flower from the trunk).

You can see this tree on the hill overlooking the town of Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala, at a place open to tourists named Where the Pirates Hide. Info on how to reach here and more photos are on the page that shows the more wilted stage of the flower.

Flowers in white phase.

Photo by Roxana Leal with a Google Pixel 4A, Dec. 19, 2020

Where the Pirates Hide, at edge of town of Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala.

Flowers after the petals turn bright rust color.

Photo by David Arrivillaga with a Sony camera, Dec. 19, 2020. Top of the hill, Where the Pirates Hide.




Is it a leafy tree? Or a cactus tree with branches and leaves?

Posted February 16, 2021

There is a tree that grows parallel to Highway CA9, from about km. 88 to km. 100+ (but not in stream beds that cross this bosque seco; these stream beds are moist; a hundred meters away it is bone dry desert: all kinds of cacti plants here. The one we show here at first I thought was a “tree” but then Victor Mendoza identified the tree as a cactus named _Pereskia lyechnidiflora_. Vivian Hurtado prepared a web page with description and bibliography. I added my photos.

For the past decade, since we do field work in Peten and now in Izabal, we drive through the bosque seco parallel to Highway CA9 and the Motagua River. A mountain chain is several kilometers to the north (that creates a rain shadow, so the area on the north side of the mountain gets drenched with rain (caught by the mountain tops); so when the clouds finally make it over to the foothills, there is not much water in them (so not much rain except during a short rainy season)).

Pereskia lyechnidiflora
Photos by Nicholas Hellmuth with an iPhone 12 Pro Max, 2021.


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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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