This flower, also named sacuanjoche, is the national flower of Nicaragua. The plumeria flower (of many diverse species) is the “national tourist flower of Hawaii” since it is the flower used in a lei.

Zac nicte is white nicte and Chac nicte is red nicte (David Bolles Maya Yucateco dictionary). Plumeria alba and Plumeria rubra. This tree has a multitude of colors for its flowers.

The Maya word is spelled variously, nikte, nicte (usually with accents, which we don’t use since they don’t always print on some laser printer driver software).

Cacaloxochitl seems to be one designation in Nahuatl (academia.org.mx dictionary).

What we (Nicholas Hellmuth and biologist Eduardo Sacayon) are working on, is to create a reference archive of photographs of the actual flowers so that epigraphers and iconographers can more readily identify the stylized flowers that appear in Mayan art.

This is a kind of research project well suited to FLAAR since we have several decades experience with photography out on location and are leaders in digital photography as well (see our www.digital-photography.org).

Since funding is scarce, our project moves ahead slowly. The interest in nikte flowers are because in Lacandon myths, recorded by earlier visitors, the Lacandon Maya of Chiapas specifically mention that certain of their gods were born of the nikte flower.

Habitat of Plumeria alba and Plumeria rubra in Guatemala

The highest concentration of Flor de Mayo in Guatemala is in the arid area to the north of the Rio Motagua. You can see hundreds of this plant in the eroded gullies on the highway leading to Coban, Alta Verapaz, just north of the turnoff from the Carretera al Atlantico.

I have transplanted about seven into my ethnobotanical garden in Guatemala City. But there the altitud is about 1500 meters and much more humid than their natural habitat. It takes them several years to adapt and in three years not one has bloomed.

Flor de Mayo
Plumeria, FLor de Mayo, photo by Mirtha Cano, FLAAR botanist 2007-2008.

Plumeria, FLor de May
Plumeria, Flor de Mayo, photo by Mirtha Cano

Bibliography on plumeria / nikte / nicte

There are enough web sites on plumeria to keep you on the Internet an entire weekend. Plumeria.org is one of thousands.

Plenty of books are available too; we cite just two that were readily available in Hawaii.

  • EGGENBERGER, Richard and Mary Helen EGGENGBERGER. 2000 The Handbook on Plumeria Culture. 4 th Edition. Tropical Plant Specialists, Cleveland , Georgia.
  • LITTLE, Jim. 2006 Growing Plumerias in Hawai’i . Mutual Publishing.

Other sacred, revered, or culturally important flowers.

Additional flowers of interest are the water lily: on which my PhD dissertation was based, published by ADEVA, Graz , and still available from FLAAR, ReaderService@FLAAR.org. Cost, new, is $300 plus $10 packing & shipping within USA. This is the original German edition with English intro and English captions. But what counts are the 727 illustrations; you don’t need to read Deutsch to appreciate the iconographic treasures available in this book.

Other flowers considered sacred by the Maya include.

  • Cacao was probably the most special plant to some Mesoamerican people other than maize.
  • Additional flowers are also evident in vase paintings, murals, and stelae. We have a long list of flowers that we are studying.

Other flowers used by the Maya include.

FLAAR is also studying all the original pre-Columbian seasoning for cacao, as listed in Maya and Aztec sources, as published by Sophie and Michael Coe. Many of these spices are from flowers.

Cacao Flower maya sacred plant Maya Archaeology
Cacao Flower, Maya sacred plant. Photo by Eduardo Sacayón, FLAAR.

 

Updated May 25, 2010.
First posted Dec. 4, 2006
. Updated August 24, 2009.

More FREE DOWNLOADS

Dubai_Garden_Glow_SGI_2017_FLAAR_Web_Free_Download
706082 D PES 2014 solvent eco solvent printers full exhibitor list Part I
Articles by FLAAR Reports for REVUE Magazine

If you wish to donate your library on pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and related topics, FLAAR will be glad to receive your library and find a good home for it. Contact:

ReaderService@FLAAR.org

DYE COLORANTS from MAYA PLANTS

2012 Prophecies of the end Mayan calendar

GigaPan Epic Pro System

TECHNOLOGY, BOOK REVIEWS on Digital Imaging, especially 3D

Private Museums of Mayan Archaeology

Ixchel

Suchitepequez

Agriculture, diet, food

Maya Vase Rollouts

Minerals & Stones Pre-columbian Mesoamerica

Maya ethnohistory

Mayan languages of Guatemala

Museums of Mayan Archaeology

Carlos Pellicer, Tabasco

Lectures on Maya topics Now available

Travel / Hotels

Guatemala City

Chichicastenango

Baja Verapaz

Additional links of our FLAAR sites

Archaeology of Iran

linkedin2
twitter
twitter

Join the over one thousand
wide-format inkjet, digital imaging,
signage, and related individuals worldwide
who are linked to FLAAR Reports
via Dr Nicholas Hellmuth.

We have two sets of Tweets: digital imaging tweets
(printers, inks, media, etc)

Mayan studies tweets (archaeology, ethnobotany,
ethnozoology
of Guatemala)