Poison Ivy is without a doubt the most famous ivy in the family; especially after Drew Barrymore gave it human traits. I am not sure if we have poison ivy in Guatemala since I am not familiar with the plant. But, we have our own poisonous plant: Chichicaste. The scientific name is Chichicaste grandis and it belongs to the Loasaceae family, but here we just call it chichicaste. The chichicaste plant is used often in hedgerows and if you have followed this blog for a while, you will know that this is not the first time the chichicaste has entered the viewfinder. I know of two kinds of chichicaste, the regular kind and chichicaste de caballo (horse’s chichicaste), which has a leaf about three times the size of normal chichicaste.
The hoja de falsa uva (false grape) or Parthenocisus inserta as it is known scientifically is a trepadora (climbing) plant. In the trepadoras category the most often used are the hiedra (ivy), uña de gato (cat’s claw), falsa uva (false grape), collar de la reina (queen’s collar), and of course the ever-present bugambilea (bougainvillea). The trepadoras (climbing) category in the Guateflora book has 34 different plants, so I have homework to do. 😉
Hiedras (Ivies/Hederas helix & H. canariensis) are very popular as well as all kinds of trepadoras (climbing) or cubresuelos (ground-creeping) siempreverdes (evergreen) plants in La Antigua Guatemala. Hiedras and trepadoras are found in many antigüeño homes covering the gardens’ walls.
Believe it or not, the land around La Antigua Guatemala was a very ‘fertile’ arid zone before the introduction of the coffee bush as a crop in 1875. I know fertile and arid sound like two mutually exclusive words, but they were not in Guatemala before 18th century where the Nopal and Maguey cactuses were grown in plantations. I’ve even seen photographs of the nopal plantations around La Antigua Guatemala in the CIRMA Fototeca (The Photo Archives at The Center for Mesoamerican Research).
You know you are in a Guatemalan home the moment you see the Colas de Quetzal (nephorlepsis spp.) or Quetzal’s tails (ferns) hanging in the corridors. The Colas de Quetzal bracken has to be one of the favorite ornamental plants used in the Guatemalan home. Some of these ferns or brackens are native to Guatemala, but they are considered cosmopolitan because they can grow anywhere. Colas de Quetzal can grown in hanging baskets, pots or in the ground, but they need some shadow to maintain the evergreen colors. The above photo of Colas de Quetzal was taken at Vivero La Escalonia (5a av. sur final), a very popular nursery in La Antigua Guatemala. Vivero La Escalonia is a great place to have breakfast or lunch.
We continue our Guateflora series with the omnipresent coffee bush or tree, which has manage to leave the coffee plantation to become a hedge. The coffee bush is one the most often seen plants around La Antigua Guatemala, but not often I’ve seen it used as hedge. The above photograph was taken at the Compañía de Jesús building, with the ruins in the background.
Gerberas (gerbera jamesonii) are a very popular flowers in the gardens of La Antigua Guatemala. Gerberas are found in yellow, white, red (like the picture above), orange, purple and pink. Gerberas grow in temperate-cold climate and give their beautiful flowers throughout the year. This particular shot was taken at Vivero La Escalonia in the south part of La Antigua. (source for technical information: Guate Flora)