Mayan Trees

Mayan Trees

If you know a little about the Mayan traditions, you probably know that there are several elements of nature that have been considered sacred since ancient times. One of them is trees – there are trees that for the Mayan are not only oxygen generators and home to hundreds of species. 

For the Maya, the trees symbolized the space where the moment of birth occurs, beings of life, greatness, goodness, perpetuity, beauty, strength and union. It is believed that trees were the communication between the three levels of the cosmos: the underground by its roots; the surface of the earth through the trunk and the sky by its foliage.

Learn more about the sacred trees of the Mayan region:

Chicozapote: Also known as chewing gum tree, it can reach up to 20 meters high. Its wood is reddish and the fruits are globose, fleshy and sweet berries. Chewing gum was extracted from this tree, which the Maya and other pre-Hispanic groups used to maintain their oral hygiene. Also, its wood is perfect for construction, since it is durable and strong.

Chechén and Chakáh: The Chechén is a tree that measures up to 25 meters high, its bark is gray and with scales, with small yellow flowers. It was a great wood for the Maya and effective measles medicine. Its white resin is extremely toxic to the skin. ChaKáh is a reddish bark tree, it was used to lower fever and against stomach infections. It is also the antidote against burns caused by Chechén.

Copal: While it is not a local tree, it has become very popular in Tulum, and you can find some in the jungle too. The copal tree measures up to 15 meters. If you approach this tree, its leaves and bark emit a characteristic smell, which you have surely smelled around this region. It was believed that the smoke purified and transmitted messages to the gods upon reaching the heavens.

Ceiba: The ceiba tree is one of the tallest trees, it can measure up to 50 meters in some places, but around 20 in this region. The Maya considered it a sacred tree, as it linked the underground world of Xibalbá with the world of the living. It is the tree of life and fecundity, and that the sacred birds that perched on the ceibas supported the universe.

Ceiba tree