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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Bibliography on Acacia dolichostachya, Mariosousa dolichstachya wild tamarind flowers, Rio Ixtinto, Yaxha, Peten, Guatemala

Acacia dolichostachya in full flowering, June 2019

Every month we do a boat ride into the Rio Ixtinto, since every month there are different trees, bushes, or vines in full flower. The month of June there were dozens of Acacia dolichostachya trees with hundreds of curiously shaped flowers on the slopes overlooking the banks of the Rio Ixtinto.

You enter this river from Lake Yaxha, along the west edge of Topoxte Island. Paxte Island is on the west side of this part of the lake. The ecosystems along the shore of the Rio Ixtinto vary every hundred meters (or less), depending on how much shore area there is, or whether there is a steep bank.

Since the river is filled with stumps from trees that grow here when the water is low plus filled with fallen trees, most lancheros do not want to break the blades of their motors by hitting a tree trunk or tree branch that is underwater. So most lancheros will only take their boat a few hundred meters up the river. The furthest we have ever reached is where there are hundreds of palo de tinto (palo de Campeche) on the left (east) side of the river. It would be helpful if funds were available for a rubber raft or simply to use paddles to go a few more hundred meters into the diverse ecosystems here. But at least we found dozens of Acacia dolichostachya trees in full flower the first week of June. We appreciate the boat from CONAP and the assistance of the IDAEH team at PNYNN.

Photo by Maria Alejandra Gutierrez, FLAAR Mesoamerica team with a Canon EOS- 1D X Mark II, lens Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM, f/7.1, 1/800, ISO 3200

Common names of Acacia dolichostachya:

Most cited names are: wild tamarind, longspike acacia, jesmo (Grandtner 2005: 12, based on Standley and Steyermark 1946 and other comparable sources). I prefer to also spell it hesmo.

Standley and Steyermark list Lysiloma desmostachys Benth. as hesmó, but the flowers of Lysiloma desmostachys are not the flowers we photographed alongside Rio Ixtinto. What we found was identified by Elena Skekavizza as Acacia dolichostachya.

Also called Cantemo (in Yucatan).

Potential uses of Acacia dolichostachya

Acacia dolichostachya is medicinal (Zamora, Flores and Ruenes 2009: Anexo 1, page 243). But Balick and Arvigo do not list medicinal use in their book on healing plants of Belize (2015: 313). However Murchnick and McCarthy do list the Acacia dolichostachya tree as medicinal (1997: 176).

May be used as a tannin (Balick, Nee, and Atha 2000: 82). Would need to check all books on dye colorants that also mention plant sources of tannin to see whether Acacia dolichostachya is included or missing.

Synonyms: Confusion and almost Contradiction

Wikipedia says that Acacia dolichostachya is a synonym of Mariosousa dolichostachya https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariosousa_dolichostachya

But the world’s largest botanical resource for synonyms says that Acacia dolichostachya S.F.Blake is an accepted name and lists only one synonym: Senegalia dolichostachya (S.F.Blake) Britton & Rose www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/ild-10240

The plant list says that Mariosousa dolichostachya (S.F. Blake) Seigler & Ebinger is an accepted name. This is the first time I have found such total confusion (and close to total contradiction) on www.ThePlantList.org. Usually its information is perfect (Wikipedia varies; usually good but not always).

Until I can understand the ups and downs of the names of this plant I will continue to use Acacia dolichostachya.

Photo by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth with a NIKON D5, lens Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR, f/13, 1/200, ISO 1600

PDF, Articles, Books on Acacia dolichostachya

You can find the pertinent botanical monographs on this web page: www.tropicos.org/Name/13000094?tab=distribution; but they do not list articles or informative web pages with photos.

  • ARELLANO, Alberto
  • 2003
  • Nomenclatura, forma de vida, uso, manejo y distribución de las especies vegetales de la Península de Yucatán. UADY. 815 pages.
  • BALÉE, William and Clark ERICKSON
  • 2006
  • Time and complexity in historical ecology: studies in the Neotropical Lowlands. Columbia University Press. 432 pages.
  • BALICK, Michael J., NEE, Michael H. and Daniel E. ATHA
  • 2000
  • Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Belize with common Names & Uses. New York Botanical Garden. 246 pages.
  • BALICK, Michael J. and Rosita ARVIGO
  • 2015
  • Messages from the GODS, a guide to the useful plants of Belize. Oxford University Press, New York Botanical Garden. 539 pages

    Although this book is supposed to be on medicinal plants, the comments for this tree do not include any medicinal use, but the comments are actually more helpful than from Standley and Steyermark:

    For tanning leather, the bark is mashed in water and used with white lime in the preparation and preservation of the hide. Wood from the larger trees is used in construction to make marimba keys..” Plus used in house construction (page 313).
  • GRANDTNER, Miroslav M.
  • 2005
  • Elsevier's Dictionary of Trees: Volume 1: North America. ELSEVIER. 1493 pages.
  • 1997
  • An Ethnobotanical Analysis of the Tree Species common to the Subtropical Moist Forests of the Peten, Guatemala. Economic Botany. Vol. 51, No. 2. Pages 158-183.
  • RICKER, Martin, HENÁNDEZ, Héctor, SOUSA, Mario and Helga OCHOTERENA
  • 2013
  • Tree and tree-like species of Mexico: Asteraceae, Leguminosae, and Rubiaceae. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad. Vol. 84. Pages 439-470.

    Available online:
  • SOUSA, Mario, RICKER, Martin and Héctor HERNÁNDEZ
  • 2001
  • Tree species of the family Leguminosae in Mexico. Harvard Papers in Botany. Vol. 6, No. 1. Pages 339-365.
  • STANDLEY, Paul C. and Julian A. STEYERMARK
  • 1946
  • Flora of Guatemala. Fieldiana, Bot. Volume 24, Part V. 368 pages.

    At 800-900 meters; Huehuetenango (between Santa Ana Huista and Rancho Lucas, Steyermark 51338). Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

    A large shrub or a tree as much as 12 meters high, unarmed, the branches puberulent at first, glabrate in age; petiole bearing a depressed oval gland at about its middle; pinnae 5-11 pairs, the leaflets about 25 pairs, linear-oblong, 3.5-7 mm. long, very obtuse or rounded at the apex, appressed-pubescent or in age glabrate, rather thick; spikes numerous, pedunculate, in anthesis 3-4.5 cm. long, puberulent or glabrate, the bractlets minute, persistent; calyx 0.5 mm. long, puberulent; legume borne on a slender stipe 1.5 cm. long, 9-13 cm. long, 1.3-1.6 cm. wide, obtuse, subacute at the base, glabrous, flat, the valves coriaceous, with conspicuous, elevated, laxly reticulate venation, somewhat lustrous. (Standley and Steyermark 1946: 8).

    Note that they do not list this tree for Peten whatsoever.

    I always think of a totally different tree when I hear the name quiebra-hacha (quiebra-hacha means a tree whose wood is so strong and solid that you break your axe when you try to chop down this tree).

    For example, Lundell (1937: 68) lists Krugiodendon ferreum (Vahl) Urban for Quiebra hacha.
  • ZAMORA, Pedro, FLORES, Guido, SALVADOR, José and Rocío RUENES
  • 2009
  • Flora útil y su manejo en el cono sur del Estado de Yucatán, México. Polibotánica. No. 28. Pages 227-250.

    Available online:


Suggested webpages with photos and information on Acacia dolichostachya



Map location.

Photo by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth with a NIKON D5, lens Nikon AF-Micro-NIKKOR 200mm f/4D IF-ED Macro, f/14, 1/250, ISO 2000


First posted, June 2019
Bibliography prepared by Marcella Sarti, FLAAR Mesoamerica


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