On the continuation of the more touristic travel
I went to Chiapas and the ruins of Palenque. On the way I saw lots
of Thrinax radiata, Sabal mexicana and just outside Coatzalcoacos
in a more or less swampy area I think there were some clusters of
Acoelorrhaphe wrightii. It is not so easy to say what palms you
see from a bus window and it is even more difficult to make the
bus stop just for you to see the palms at a closer distance. It
was quite strange that the other passengers didn't seem to be so
interested in Palms and Cycads.
Around the ruins of Palanque they have kept the
rainforest intact which means that it is very much to see there,
also if you are interested in plants. Just uphill from the ruins
there were plenty of Chamaedorea that looked like ernesti-augusti,
tepejilote and oblongata, there were some very spiny palms that
I think were Astrocaryum mexicanum and finally after less than an
hour walking uphill I saw a very nice Cycad in the wild, Zamia splendens.
Now when I found one specimen of Zamia splendens I thought that
it had to be more just around, and if I am more lucky some female
plant with some seeds, but I couldn't find anymore specimens around.
Maybe are Zamia splendens not growing in big clusters. There were
also many ferns out there but unfortunately my knowledge of ferns
is too poor to really identify what I see.
After staying some time in touristic San Christobal
I went to Tuxtla Guiterrez where they have a Botanical Garden which
contains the species that exist in Chiapas. They had two Dioon merolae,
some Ceratozamia mexicana, some Zamia splendens without labels and
among the palms they got some Scheelea preussiana. If I remember
right then Scheelea, Attalea and Orbignya is considered synonymous.
Sometimes it is written Attalea sometimes the other names. Of course
they had also plenty of Chamaedoras. At the garden they also had
some very big feather spiny palms without labels and with light
brown fruits round and big like a golf ball, the fruit contained
two dark, hard and flat seeds, could it be Acrocomia? Later during
my touristic trip I went to the newly opened Botanical Garden in
Oaxaca but that Garden was not so interesting if the main interest
is Palms and Cycads, although they had some unlabelled Dioons, one
they called oaxacaensis which to me looked like a merolae. At the
University, UNAM, Botanical Garden in Mexico City they had very
many Cactus and Succulents but only some few Cycads among them a
big Dioon rzedowski and some Ceratozamia mexicana. They had even
fewer Palms mostly Chamaedoras.
A big disadvantage with my trip was that I didn't
have the Henderson book 'Field Guide to Palms of the Americas' with
me. I just ordered the book when I came home. That means that I
am not so sure of the real names of many Palms that I saw. For example
there was a quite big and common Palm in the state of Veracruz that
looked like an Attalea to me or could it be some kind of Syagrus.
The locals called it Palma de Coyolito, but that doesn't say anything
to me. I have later checked this in the Henderson book and it was
Attalea butyracea. My chances of finding the right name of Cycads
was bigger since I brought with me the booklet Cycads of Veracruz.
But that didn't help me so much since it is much more difficult
to find Cycads in the wild. I think you have to have much more help
to find Cycads than just a mark on a not very detailed map in a
book. You maybe wonder if I didn't see any Brahea. Oh yes, in the
countryside there were plenty. They seemed to grow in a little arid
climate, nearly where the Yuccas grew.
Before I went to this holiday trip I listed the
genus of Palms from David Jones' book that I might have a chance
to see in the wild. During my trip I think I saw about half of those
I listed. It is not so easy to find the small palms Reinhardtia
and Geonoma, and I didn't. To summarize my trip I would say that
there are many kind of Palms and Cycads to find out there, also
around the touristic spots in Mexico. I think it is quite possible
to combine a normal touristic travel, for example following the
Lonely Planet guidebook, with some small side excursions to see
a good number of Palms and with luck, maybe some Cycads too.