Economic Botany

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 158–183 | Cite as

An Ethnobotanical analysis of the tree species common to the subtropical moist forests of the petén, Guatemala

  • Patrice A. Mutchnick
  • Brian C. Mccarthy


The purpose of this study was to analyze the utilization of tree species within and around the borders of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala and to compare two sampling methodologies for the acquisition of such data. Residents in the communities of Caoba (border of reserve) and Uaxactún (within reserve) demonstrated significantly different utilization of tree species. Differences were due to the unique ecological and socio-economic conditions in each of the towns. Residents of both communities relied most heavily onSwietenia macrophylla, Manilkara achras. Cedrela odorata, Pouteria mammosa and Caesalpinia spp. Residents of Caoba considered 39% of all useful tree species to be marketable compared with only 18% in Uaxactún. Overall, more than 80 tree species were identified as useful in each of the communities. Changes in forest composition along with dynamic economic conditions were found to be altering the commercial utilization of tree species throughout the region. Some suggestions are offered for community development projects.

Key Words

ethnobotany Guatemala medicinal plants methodology timber 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Aguilar-Cúmes, J. M. 1967. Untitled (tree identification guide). Guatemala, CA.Google Scholar
  2. Alcorn, J. B. 1989. An economic analysis of Haustec Mayan forest management. Pages 182–208in J. Browder, ed., Fragile lands of Latin America: Strategies for sustainable development. Westview Press, Boulder, CO, USA.Google Scholar
  3. Anonymous. 1979. Fomento y desarrollo economico de El Petén. Guatemala, CA.Google Scholar
  4. Ascension, E. 1988. Seminario, los bosques del de-partamento de Petén. Santa Elena, Petén, Guatemala, CA.Google Scholar
  5. Boom, B. M. 1989. Use of plant resources by the Chácobo. Pages 78–96in D. A. Posey and W. Bal-eá, eds., Resource management in Amazonia: Indigenous and folk strategies. Advances in Economic Botany, Vol 7. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  6. Browder, J. O. 1992. The limits of extractivism. BioScience 42:174–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carneiro, R. L. 1978. The knowledge and use of rain forest trees by the Kuikuru Indians of central Brazil. Pages 201-216in R. I. Ford, ed., The nature and status of ethnobotany. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.Google Scholar
  8. Centro de Estudios Conservacionistas. 1991. Den-drologia tropical: Manual para guardarrecursos. Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, Guatemala, CA.Google Scholar
  9. Chapin, M. 1992. Disappearing forests; disappearing peoples. Cultural Survival Quaterly Fall:63–68.Google Scholar
  10. Davis, S. H. 1991. Sembrando las semillas de la vi-olencia. Pages 19–63in R. M. Carmack, ed. Guatemala: Cosecha de violencias. Guatemala, CA.Google Scholar
  11. Estrada-Loera, E. 1991. Phytogeographic relationships of the Yucatan Peninsula. Journal of Bioge-ography 18:687–697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fomento y Desarrollo Economico de El Pe’en and Food and Agriculture Organization (FYDEP and FAO). 1970. Paralel 17: El Peten. Guatemala, CA.Google Scholar
  13. Godoy, R, and R. Lubowski. 1991. Guidelines for the economic valuation of non-timber tropical forest products. Current Anthropology 33:423–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gomez-Pompa, A., and A. Kaus. 1990. Traditional management of tropical forests in Mexico. Pages 43-60in A. B. Anderson, ed., Alternatives to deforestation: Steps toward sustainable use of the Amazon rain forest. Columbia University Press, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  15. Hartshorn, G. S. 1988. Tropical and subtropical vegetation of Meso-america. Pages 365-390in M. G. Barbour and W. D. Billings, eds., North American terrestrial vegetation. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  16. Holdridge, L. R., W. C. Grenke, W. H. Hatheway, T. Liang, and J. A. Tosi, Jr. 1971. Forest environments in tropical life zones: A pilot study. Pergamon Press, Elmsford, New York, USA.Google Scholar
  17. Langley, R. 1970. Practical statistics: Simply explained. Dover Publications, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  18. Leyden, B. W. 1984. Guatemalan forest synthesis after pleistocene aridity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 81:4856–4859.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lundell, C. L.. 1937. Vegetation of Peten. Carnegie Institution, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  20. Mutchnick, P. A. 1994. A vegetation study and eth-nobotanical analysis of tree species in the subtropical moist forest of Pet’en, Guatemala. Thesis. Ohio University, Athens, OH, USA.Google Scholar
  21. Nations, J. D. 1988. Biodiversity in Guatemala: Biological diversity and tropical forests assessment. Center for International Development and Environment, World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  22. —. 1992. Xateros, Chicleros, and Pimenteros: Harvesting renewable tropical forest resources in the Guatemalan, Peten. Pages 208–219in K. H. Redford and C. Padoch, eds. Conservation of neotropical forests. Columbia University Press, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  23. Ozaeta, A. 1992. Diagnostico general de Uaxactoen. Guatemala, Central America.Google Scholar
  24. Peters, C. M., A. H. Gentry, and R. O. Mendelsohn. 1989. Valuation of an Amazonian rainforest. Nature 339:655–656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Phillips, O. and A. H. Gentry. 1993. The useful plants of Tambota, Peru: II: Additional hypothesis testing in quantitative ethnobotany. Economic Botany 47:33–43.Google Scholar
  26. Plotkin, M. and L. Famolare. 1992. Sustainable harvest and marketing of rainforest products. Island Press, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  27. Prance, G. T. 1987. Biogeography of neotropical plants. Pages 46–65in T. C. Whitmore and G. T. Prance, eds., Biogeography and quaternary history in tropical America. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  28. —. 1989. Introduction.In D. A. Posey and W. Baleé, eds., Resource management in Amazonia: Indigenous and folk strategies. Advances in Economic Botany, Vol 7., New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  29. —,W. Balee, and R. L. Carneiro. 1987. Quantitative ethnobotany and the case for conservation in Amazonia. Conservation Biology 1:296–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Puleston, D. E. 1973. Ancient Maya settlement pat- terns and environment at Tikal, Guatemala: Impli- cations for subsistence models. Dissertation. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.Google Scholar
  31. Rees, W. E. 1990. The ecology of sustainable development. The Ecologist 20:93–111.Google Scholar
  32. Reining, C., R. Heinzman, M. Cabrera, M. S. Lopez, and A. Solorzano. 1992. Non timber prod- ucts of the Maya Biospere Reserve, Peten, Guatemala. Conservation International Foundation, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  33. Rico-Gray, V., A. Chemas, and S. Mandujano. 1991. Uses of tropical deciduous forest species by the Yucatecan Maya. Agroforestry Systems 14: 149–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Standley, P. C. and S. J. Record. 1936. The forests and flora of British Honduras. Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL, USA.Google Scholar
  35. and J. A. Steyermark. 1958. Flora of Gua- temala. Fieldiana: Botany 24, Part 1. Natural History Museum, Chicago, IL, USA.Google Scholar
  36. Schwartz, N. 1990. Forest society: A social history of the Peten, Guatemala. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA, USA.Google Scholar
  37. Toledo, V. M., A. L Batis, R. Becerra, E. Martinez, and C. H. Ramos. 1992. Products from the tropical rain forests of Mexico: An ethnoecological approach. Pages 89–109in M. Plotkin and L. Famolare, eds., Sustainable harvest and marketing of rainforest products. Island Press, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  38. Turner, B. L. II and C. H. Miksicek. 1984. Economic plant species associated with prehistoric agriculture in the Maya lowlands. Economic Botany 38:179–193.Google Scholar
  39. United States Agency for International Development/Government of Guatemala. 1991. Plan de accion forestal para Guatemala. Republica de Guatemala, CA.Google Scholar
  40. United States International Development Cooperation Agency. 1990. Guatemala project paper: Maya biosphere project. Project #520-0395. Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  41. Vasquez-Pinedo, M., D. Zarin, P. Jipp, and J. Chota-Inuma. 1990. Use-values of tree species in a communal forest reserve in northeast Peru. Conservation Biology 4:405–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Walter, H. 1984. Vegetation of the earth and ecological systems of the geo-biosphere, third edition. Springer-Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany.Google Scholar
  43. World Resources Institute. 1992. The 1992 Information please environmental almanac. Houghton Mifflin Co, Boston, MA, USA.Google Scholar
  44. West, R. C. 1964. Surface configuration and associated geology of Middle America. Pages 33-83in R. C. West, ed., Handbook of Middle American Indians: Natural environment and early cultures. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX, USA.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrice A. Mutchnick
    • 1
  • Brian C. Mccarthy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental and Plant BiologyOhio UniversityAthensUSA

Personalised recommendations