Mexico City News and Travel

Plants on verge of extinction make a comeback in Tepotzotlán

Located in the Magical Town of Tepotzotlán, the Botanical Garden of Xochitla protects and propagates more than 200 species of plants, among 43 species in danger of extinction.

Located in the norponiente of the Metropolitan Zone of the Valley of Mexico, this natural area carries out a project of environmental recovery in lands that were previously used for agricultural.

Currently, based on a Master Plan of Landscape Architecture, three main areas are developed and maintained: a park of 20 hectares open to the public, an 18-hectare botanic garden being developed and a reserve area for future projects.

The botanical area houses 10 collections, one of the most important being the “Aquatic Plants Garden”, where 14 species are conserved, including four threatened by extinction, Tres Ninfeas and La Papa de Agua.

The objective of this collection is to recreate the vegetation that existed in the lakes of the Valley of Mexico and that today are disappearing.

“Plant species in the garden of aquatic plants are grouped by their uses: food, medicinal, ceremonial, handicraft or for their construction,” said Maribel Rodríguez, Coordinator of Green Areas of Xochitla.

When entering the garden, the first group of plants that we find is the edible, like the navel of Venus, a species rich in iron and whose leaves prepared in tea relieve some discomforts of the liver and kidneys.

Much attention is paid to the Papa de Agua, which is located in Mexican Official Standard NOM059-SEMARNAT-2010 as a Mexican species at risk of disappearing due to the loss of its natural habitat.

In the center of the lake is the ceremonial zone, where the plants of floating leaves called Nympheas are concentrated.

Biologist Rodríguez Olvera says that in the medicinal area are Equisetum Hyemale, better known as “Cola de Caballo”, and Lobelia Cardinalis or Laguna Cardinal, which are used as natural diuretics.

For the pre-Hispanic settlers, the Tule was a very important plant because they used it to make clothes, bags, and other articles for personal use.

In the Botanical Garden of Xochitla also lives the Dalias Silvestres of Mexico, which has 26 species of the 38 that are in the country and are characterized by having six to eight petals.

“Dahlia has many uses, besides being appreciated for its beauty, it has a tuber, which is very rich in fiber, prevents colon cancer and its petals have antioxidants,” said Rodríguez Olvera.

Highly prized for its ornamental beauty, the petals of this flower can be used in salads, sweet potatoes to replace potatoes and foliage as animal feed.

Within the NOM-059-SEMARNAT, the list of endagered species of Mexico, is the Dahlia tenuicaullis, for this the botanical gardens work towards its conservation.

Another important collection is the Mexican Jewels of Nature, whose purpose is to promote the conservation and dissemination of wild plants native to the country, such as tigridias, nochebuenas, echeverias, agaves, cempasúchil, bromeliads and quelites.

In this place, visitors can admire the echeverias or tememetlas, which means “magueyitos irrigated on the rocks”, and many are in danger of extinction by the extraction of their habitat, in order to commercialize them in an illegal way.

It is also possible to see the collection of agaves or “tree of wonders”, as was known by the Spaniards, and that has had great importance in the life of the Mexicans throughout history.

“An important part of our territory is the Mexican altiplano, with arid zones, where the agaves are characteristic of this type of vegetation, of which the inhabitants obtain a source of income, for the obtaining of mead, pulque or mixiote, the reason that many species could disappear due to the exploitation they have suffered,” said biologist Fabiola López in an interview.

In addition, during the months of July and August, the attendants can appreciate the beauty of tigridias that by the combination of colors resemble the skin of a tiger.

A very relevant natural exhibit is the temperate forests and the encinetum, which are formed by oaks, pines, arbutus, cedars and tepozanes.

“In the Garden of Philanthropy there are two species of pine trees that are at risk, such as Pinus Johannis, under special protection, and Pinus Culminicola in danger of extinction, these species are characteristic of northeastern Mexico and their populations are few,” said biologist Fabiola López.

Xochitla provides protection to more than 200 species of fauna such as ducks, gallaretas, hawks, owls, bats, tlacuaches, cincuates, lizards, frogs and a great diversity of insects, from the reforestations and plantations that have been made.

Those interested in spending a day surrounded by nature, should know that public access to this park is from Monday to Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

During the weekends there are tours and educational programs and environmental training to raise awareness about the importance of conservation and sustainable management of plant diversity.

“People who visit Xochitla are convinced that they can take concrete actions in their home and / or community to raise awareness and contribute to changes in attitudes that help protect plant diversity and improve their quality of life,” said Rodríguez Olvera.