Puerto Vallarta is blessed with a lush tropical climate that supports several hundred varieties of plants, trees, vines, and flowers. Many are native to Mexico and some, such as several species of orchids, are only found in Mexico and may be endangered.
There is some fascinating history going back hundreds of years for some of these plants that the Mayans, Aztecs, and indigenous Indians used in their ceremonies, to cure ailments, to make clothes, paper, dyes, poisons, utensils, and to trade. Today, herbal and Ayurvedic medicines, industrial applications, religious ceremonies of many countries, and of course horticulturists and landscapers still use many of these plants.
For example, plumeria are used in incense, perfumes and soaps; aloe for skin lotions, digestives and burn medications; castor bean for industrial paint, lubricants, and mold inhibitives in some foods; senna for thickening agent, herbal elixir, and purgative; vincahas chemical compounds being studied for cancer treatments (Vincristine).
Locally, the tamarind seed pods are used for drinks, sauces, candy, and flavorings; blue agave for tequila; hibiscus flowers for the native Mexican drink "Jamaica", for red dye, and the roots for a paste thought to stop hair loss; copo de oro flowers are gathered to make a cathartic tea; and of course the papaya, banana, jacca, guava, pineapple and other fruits are part of the daily diet.
I have created a new walking tour that includes over 70 varieties of local plants, trees, flowers, and vines. You will not only learn common names of these plants and some of their medicinal or practical uses, but your guide will also share some history, local knowledge, and stories of the people who have made Vallarta what it is today.
If you are here during the Puerto Vallarta Bugambilia Festival, walks will be given May 22 and May 23 beginning at 10 am in the downtown central plaza by the kiosk. These festival walks are free and take about an hour and a half. Limited to 20 people. Bring some water and a camera. Bathrooms are available only at the end of the tour.Learn Vallarta is dedicated to education and cultural integration. Owned and operated by an American lady and their staff who live in Vallarta full time, they deliver personal and helpful assistance in learning more about this charming tropical environment and its friendly people. Located in downtown Puerto Vallarta, Learn Vallarta's office hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm. For more information, call (322) 228-9365, send an email to info(at)LearnVallarta.com, or visit their website at LearnVallarta.com.
Click HERE for more Learn Vallarta information.