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The native flora of the Necaxa Valley plays an important role in the everyday life and traditional customs of the people. We have begun work collecting and identifying many of the local species recognized by our consultants, as well as documenting some of the stories and beliefs that surround them. A full list of plants that have been identified to date can be found here.

ló:he (Elephant ears—Xanthosoma robust Schott) is a plant with large leaves used as umbrellas. The young leaves or tajná’ are edible, and used to make soup.

Totonac: ló:he  English:  Elephant Ears, Yautia Latin: Xanthosoma robustum Schott Spanish: malvarón, barbarón, quequexte

ló:he  ( Xanthosoma robust Schott)

a:xílh (Prickly Pear—Opuntia spp.)

a:xílh (Opuntia)

a:xílh (Prickly Pear—Opuntia spp.) is commonly found all over Mexico; its pads are boiled and eaten in salads and other dishes, and their fruit, the tuna, is eaten raw or made into a cold drink. 

ma’hachulhchúlh (Stonecrop—Sedum dendroideum) is a plant with seedpods that rattle when they are dry. Children play with the flowers, by blowing into them and popping them with their hands or throwing them into the fire. The leaves are chewed to cure toothaches, buccal infections, and chest congestion. They are also used to cure rashes by grinding them and mixing them with oil to spread on as a poultice. The leaf can also be roasted and used as a cure for bed-wetting.

a’hó:wa (Pumpwood, Trumpet Tree—Cecropia obtusifolia Bert.) hosts ant colonies. The bark is used to treat diabetes and the sprouts are made into a tea to treat vision problems.

lhtakatsé’hna’ (lhtakatsé’hnu’ in Patla) is a type of False Plantain or Lobster Claw (Heliconia bihai) whose leaves are used to wrap tamales.

ji:náni’ (Eared Piper—Piper auritum) is a medicinal plant with large leaves and edible shoots and roots. It has a minty flavor and is ground up and boiled. People come to the levantamiento of a child and drink a cupful of brew facing the sun. It is also used to cure espanto, a spiritual or psychological malady caused by a fright or traumatic experience.


Mamey (Pouteria mammas)

já:’ka:’ (Marmalade fruit—Pouteria mammas) is a popular fruit commonly known as the mamey. The tree is believed not to produce the following year if a first-born child climbs it to pick fruit. 

che’he:li:pá’lhna’ (unidentified) is used for making brooms, and scrubbing dishes. It is also used to cleanse the bed of a baby during its levantamiento.

pu:m (Copal Tree—Bursera spp.), source of copal an aromatic resin burned as incense and an aromatic wood, both employed in traditional healing rituals and witchcraft.


Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)

asiyé:ti (Castor Bean—Ricinus communis) leaves are ground with tomato, baking powder, and fat and used as poultice applied to a patient’s stomach to cure fevers.

tzujpí:n (Bullhorn Acacia—Acacia cornigera), a type of tree with large spines that hosts a species of biting ant (Pseudomyrmex ferruginea).

i’xchankát páxni’ (Costus spicatus) is a plant used to cure afflictions of the kidneys and hepatitis.