Merida Yucatan Mexico Information-Travel Guide



Plants Native to Mexico

Mexico's ecosystem is a vast one as the country covers a wide variety of terrains and climates. The variety of native plant species is reflected by its geography. From the tropical conditions of the Yucatan Peninsula to the Sonoran Desert in the north central region of the country, Mexico has an extensive native plant list. Below is listed just a small handful of Mexico's most popular plant varieties.


  1. The Sonoran Desert in Mexico crosses the border north into the United States, so the countries share some species of "native" cacti but not all. The Tree Cholla (Cylindropuntia imbricate) reaches as far north from Mexico as Kansas. While both countries are home to Organ Pipe cactus, the Mexican species (Pachycereus marginatus) is different from that found in southern Arizona (Stenocereus thurberi). Likewise, although Mexico's Cardon (Pachycereus pringlei) cactus looks much like the Saguaro found in Arizona, they belong to different genera.
  2. Ferns

  3. Mexico is home to a number of ferns as well. One of the largest is the tree fern (Lophosoria quadripinnata) which in addition to be native to Mexico also grows as far south as Chile. Giant leather ferns (Acrostichum danaefolium), which can grow to heights of 9 feet, and the golden leather fern (Acrostichum aureum) both thrive in the Quintana Roo section of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
  4. Vines

  5. The Cat's Claw vine (Macfadyena unguis-cati) is native to Mexico and grows there without causing trouble. However, as a transplanted exotic, this vine has been dubbed "one of the most destructive exotic vines" in Australia. Also, in Florida, Cat's Claw is listed as a Category I Exotic Pest Plant. Conversely, Queen's Wreath (Petrea volubilis) is also a Mexican tropical native that is sought after in many parts of the world as a beautiful horticultural addition to gardens.
  6. Woody Plants

  7. A tree the Mayans call the Chit (Thrinax radiata) also goes by the name of Florida Thatch Palm as it is found in the Florida Keys as well. In addition, this Mexican plant is found in Belize and areas of the Caribbean although it is listed as threatened or endangered in nearly all locations. Chits have lost their native habitats to encroaching development. Mexico's higher mountains are home to the Timberline Montezuma Pine (Pinus hartwegii), which grows at altitudes of 2500 to 4000 meters and has spread as far south as Guatemala and Honduras.
  8. Non-Woody Plants

  9. One of Mexico's best known non-woody plants is the Agave, specifically the Blue Agave (Agave tequilana) which is used in the production of tequila. A large spread blight destroyed many of these plants throughout the 1990s, causing tequila shortages and price fluctuations. In addition to providing the ingredient for tequila, the agave's fibers are also used in the creation of sisal. Espazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides), or Mexican Tea, grows throughout North America but is widely used in Mexican cultures for medicinal purposes, including that of a de-wormer.
  10. Popular Mexican Plants

  11. In addition to tequila, there are other popular products derived from plants that are attributed as Mexican natives. These include chocolate, vanilla, avocado, chewing gum and Mexican jumping beans.




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