Economic Botany

, Volume 71, Issue 4, pp 374–379 | Cite as

The Plants Leaves Used to Wrap Tamales in the Mexican State of Veracruz

  • Maite Lascurain
  • Citlalli López-Binnqüist
  • Sergio Avendaño
  • Melissa Covarrubias
Notes on Economic Plants


This paper reports the results of a series of interviews with women in four regions of the state of Veracruz, Mexico, and about the leaves they use to wrap tamales. Tamales are a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of maize-based dough steamed in different kinds of leaves. It is a quintessential expression of the biocultural richness of Mexico. Tamalli (tamale) in the Nahuatl language means wrapping. The tamale is one of the most famous Mexican foods, and its popularity is so great that Pérez San Vicente (2000) recorded about 370 ways to prepare tamales from southern Mexico to northern South America. The nomenclature of tamales in Mexico is extremely variable, depending on the state and region. Strictly local names used for specific regional recipes (out of many in that region) include for example: corundas, nacatamales, and uchepos in Michoacán; zacahuil in Veracruz; chipilín in Chiapas; barbones and nixcocos in Sinaloa; pibipollo, vaporcitos, and chanchamitosin Yucatán....



The authors thank the people who were interviewed, as well as the collaboration of a large team of students and colleagues, especially Fortunata Panzo, Mónica Xocua, Ismael Parada, and Mark Stowe and Raymundo Dávalos who reviewed the English version.


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maite Lascurain
    • 1
  • Citlalli López-Binnqüist
    • 2
  • Sergio Avendaño
    • 3
  • Melissa Covarrubias
    • 4
  1. 1.Red Ambiente y Sustentabilidad, Instituto de Ecología, A. C.XalapaMéxico
  2. 2.Centro de Investigaciones TropicalesUniversidad VeracruzanaXalapaMéxico
  3. 3.Herbario XAL, Instituto de Ecología, A. C.XalapaMéxico
  4. 4.Independent professionalXalapaMéxico

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