Research on edible flowers for Maya foods


For several years we have been doing research on edible flowers, especially flowers which can be used as a spice or flavoring for condiments. The flower of Quararibea-funebris is such a flavoring.

To assist students, scholars, and the general public who have an interest in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica we provide the bibliography below. Our focus is primarily the Maya, though we do keep track of foods of the Aztec. We try to note the foods of the Mixtec of Oaxaca, Mexico as well, but our focus is rather clearly on Guatemala since the material here is easier to find.

FLAAR is preparing several monographs on foods of the Classic Maya as well as books on cacao, chocolate, tobacco, and incense. We have been doing research on these topics for several years and are working especially to obtain original photographs of high-resolution and giclee-style natural beauty. But on this page we present only the bibliography, since the trees are extremely elusive: literally. In four years search we have found one single tree, and it had one single flower (we visited the tree three times, this requiring a 3 day round-trip drive with a fully equipped photo team). We are obviously seeking additional trees.

It also took four years to find orejuela, and we finally found one tree; then a week later found five more. So it will be the same with molinillo: we will eventually have found more trees so we can do our fine art photography style of recording the flowers.


Bibliography on Quararibea funebris,
Molinillo, Rosita de Cacao


Molinillo is missing totally from Plantas utiles de Peten Guatemala (MacVean 2003). And Quararibea funebris is conspicuously missing from most discussions of the plants of Alta Verapaz in general and Q'eqchi' in particular.

  • ATRAN, Scott., XIMENA, Lois, and Ediberto Ucan EK
  • 2004
  • Plants of the Petén Itza' Maya. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan Memoirs, Number 38. 248 pages.
  • AVERSON, William S.
  • 1986
  • Quararibea Aubl. s.l. (Bombacaceae) in Mexico, Central America and the Antilles: a taxonomic study. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Wisconsin-Madison. 464 pages.
  • GENTRY, Johnnie L., Jr. and Paul C. STANDLEY
  • 1974
  • Flora of Guatemala. Fieldiana: Botany, Vol. 24, Part X, Numbers 1 and 2. Field Museum of Natural History.
  • JANOVEC, J. P.
  • 2000
  • A systematic study of Compsoneura (A. DC.) Warb., a neotropical member of the Nutmeg Family (Myristicaceae). Estudio sistemático de Compsoneura (A. DC.) Warb., Un miembro neotropical de la familia de la nuez moscada (Myristicaceae). Ph.D. dissertation, Texas A&M University, Graduate School, College Station, TX. 450 pages.
  • MacVEAN, Ana Lucrecia
  • 2003
  • Plantas utiles de Peten, Guatemala. Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. 168 pages.
  • 2008
  • Plant diversity assessment in the Yaxchilan Natural Monument, Chiapas, Mexico. Boletin de la Sociedad Botanica de Mexico, 83:53-76.
  • PEÑA-CHOCARRO, Maria and Sandra KNAPP
  • 2011
  • Árboles del Mundo Maya. Museo de Historia Natural de Londres, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Universidad del Valle and Propetén de Guatemala and Belize Forest Department

    Funded by AVINA (Asociación para la Vida y la Naturaleza) and associated with Pronatura. Describes 220 species of tree. Has one photo of each, but quite small, and when a wide-angle view you can't see any detail. Font is also quite small.

    I estimate the publication date is 2011 because the front info page is a tad academic and not very practical; does not clearly list the date of publication.
  • 1968
  • Arboles tropicales de Mexico. Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Mexico, D.F. 413 pages.
  • RAFFAUF, Robert E, and Thomas M. ZENNIE
  • 1983
  • The phytochemistry of Quararibea funebris. Botanical Museum Leaflets 29 (2): 151-58.
  • ROSENGARTEN, Frederic, Jr.
  • 1977
  • An unusual spice from Oaxaca: The flowers of Quararibea funebris. Botanical Museum Leaflets 25 (7): 183-202.
  • RECORD, Samuel J.
  • 1939
  • American Woods of the Family Sapotaceae. Tropical Woods 59, 46-49.
  • RECORD, Samual James and Robert W. HESS
  • 1943
  • Timbers of the New World. Arno Press.
  • SCHULTES, Richard Evans
  • 1957
  • The Genus Quararibea in Mexico and the use of its flowers as a spice for Chocolate. Botanical Museum leaflets, Harvard University. V. 17 1955-1957, Pp. 247-264.
  • STANDLEY, Paul C.
  • 1930
  • Flora of Yucatan. Fieldiana, Botany Series, Vol. 3, No. 3. Field Museum of Natural History. p. 354
  • VELIZ, M.
  • 2000
  • Subespecie nueva de Quararibea (Bombacaceae) de Guatemala. Anales del Instituto de Biología Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Serie Botánica 71(2): 81-85.
  • ZENNIE, Thomas and John M. CASSADY
  • 1990
  • Funebradiol, a New Pyrrole Lactone Alkaloid from Quararibea funebris Flowers. J. Nat. Prod., 1990, 53 (6), pp 1611–1614

This page on Quararibea funebris posted May 20, 2013