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 Lonchocarpus sp. in Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo

PDF, Articles, Books on Lonchocarpus sp. in Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo.

  • ATRAN, Scott, MEDIN, Douglas, ROSS, Norbert, LYNCH, Elizabeth, VAPNARSKY, Valentina, UCAN, Edilberto, COLEY, John, TIMURA, Christopher and Michael BARAN
  • 2002
  • Folkecology, Cultural Epidemiology, and the Spirit of the Commons A Garden Experiment in the Maya Lowlands, 1991–2001. Current Anthropology, Vol. 43, No. 3.
  • ATRAN, S., LOIS, X. and Ucan EK´, E.
  • 2004
  • Plants of the Petén Itza´ Maya. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.
  • BALICK, Michael J. and Rosita ARVIGO
  • 2015
  • Messages from the Gods: a guide to the useful plants of Belize. OUP. 560 pages.
  • DURAN, F. A.
  • 1999
  • Estructura y etnobotánica de la selva alta perennifolia de Naha, Chiapas. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. 150 pages.
  • HERMANN, F. J.
  • 1948
  • Studies in Lonchocarpus and related genera, IV: The Lonchocarpus rugosus complex and additional Middle American species. J. Wash. Acad. Sc. Vol. 38, No.9. Pages 310-312.
  • LENTZ, David L., DUNNING, Nicholas P., and Vernon L. SCARBOROUGH
  • 2015
  • Tikal: Paleoecology of an Ancient Maya City. Cambridge University Press. 374 pages.
  • MCGEE, J. R.
  • 1990
  • Life, Ritual and religion among the Lacandon Maya. Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, California.
  • MCGEE, J. R.
  • 1991
  • The Balche Ritual of the Lacandon Maya. Estudios de Cultura Maya. Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas/Centro de Estudios Mayas, UNAM. Vol. XVIII. Pages 439-457.

    Available online:

    No mention of what tree genus or species whatsoever. He quotes the standard historical source of Bishop Diego de Landa which says it’s the roots. “They made wine from honey, water and the root of a certain tree which they grew just for that purpose.” But most sources today indicate it’s the bark.
  • MENNA, Bernard and Lozano CORTÉS
  • 2003
  • Las bebidas sagradas mayas: el balché y el saká. “Sincronía” Revista Electrónica de Estudios Culturales del Departamento de Letras de la Universidad de Guadalajara.

    Available online:
  • 1975
  • La vegetación de Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Gobierno del Estado de Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez. 324 pages.
  • NIEMBRO, R. A.
  • 2003
  • Lonchocarpus longistylus Pittier. En: Vozzo J.A. Ed. Tropical Tree Seed Manual USDA Forest Service, Washington D.C. 550 pages.
  • PENNINGTON, Terence D. and Jose SARUKHAN
  • 2016
  • Árboles tropicales de México: manual para la identificación de las principales especies. 3ª Edición. UNAM. 523 pages.
  • 1917
  • The Middle American species of Lonchocarpus. Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. Vol. 20. Pages 37-93.
  • SOUSA S. Mario
  • 2008
  • Las subespecies de Lonchocarpus rugosus Benth. (Leguminosae, Papilionoideae: Millettieae). Ceiba. Vol. 49, No. 1. Pages 119-132.

    Available online:

    This botanical article documents how confusing it is to distinguish between a variety and a species and from one area to another, and that every 10 or 20 years the plant names change. Clearly a PhD dissertation is needed on the genus Lonchocarpus but NOT IN A UNIVERSITY LIBRARY or even in a herbarium! Out in the field, out in the forests, and with a good telephoto lens photograph the flowers and document every other aspect of each tree.
  • SOUSA, Mario
  • 2011
  • La sect. Lonchocarpus del género Lonchocarpus (Leguminosae, Papilionoidae, Millettieae): nuevas especies y subespecie para México y Mesoamérica. Acta Botánica Mexicana. Vol. 94. Pages 27-59.

    Available online:
  • SOUSA, Mario, SOTUYO, Solange and Euler PEDRAZA
  • 2014
  • Sistemática de Lonchocarpus sección punctati (Fabaceae: Millettieae), basada en datos morfológicos y moleculares, con la descripción de nueve especies nuevas. Acta botánica mexicana. No. 109. Pages 79-131.

    Available online:
  • STANDLEY, Paul C. and Julian A. STEYERMARK
  • 1946
  • Flora of Guatemala. Fieldiana: botany. Chicago natural history Museum. Vol. 24, Part V. Page 279.

    Available online:

    A related species, Lonchocarpus longistylus Pittier, of Yucatan, is known by the Maya name "balche” By the ancient Mayas the bark was soaked in water with honey and fermented to produce an intoxicating beverage called "balche” With this they were accustomed to intoxicate themselves at religious and other celebrations, and it was also offered ceremonially to their gods. The drink is still made and used in the Maya region, but sugar sirup generally is employed in place of honey, its Spanish name being pitarrilla. It is probable that L. longistylus extends into Peten and that more than one of the closely related Lonchocarpus species is utilized for preparing the beverage. Tozzer states that balche is much used in the religious ceremonies of the Lacandon Indians of Peten. He describes the prepared beverage as milky white, with a sour odor, and at first disagreeable to the taste. It contains only a small per cent of alcohol, but drunkenness is attained by drinking large quantities of it.

Suggested web pages with photos and information on Lonchocarpus sp. in Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo

Best photos by far; nice large size. Lists Lonchocarpus longistylus. Lists several local names:

  • palo gusano
  • balché
  • saayab y xbal-ché
  • sakiab
  • palo de patlaches

Standley and Steyermark list so many local names that it is very confusing (since some names are different for different species, but other names are the same for different species).

Lists Lonchocarpus violaceus but lists Lonchocarpus longistylus in her own comments at the end.

Also says “A closely related beverage, made from honey produced from the nectar of a species of morning glory (Turbina corymbosa), was called xtabentún.” I would not hesitate to drink balche (though I have not tried it; but I sure would not try anything made from Turbina corymbosa.

In theory this Kew Gardens web site could help identify where all the other species of can be found (or not found).

Photos of L. guatemalensis.

Synonyms of L. guatemalensis.

Information of L. hondurensis.

Synonyms of L. luteomaculatus.

First posted April, 2018
Bibliography prepared by Marcella Sarti, FLAAR Mesoamerica


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