We have traveled extensively in the Yucatan and as a botanist I'm always interested in local uses and cultural depictions of plants. One of the plants that really interests me is tajonal, the secret plant of the Mayans.
The tajonal plant covers the roadsides and empty fields all over the Yucatan. A large shrub covered with bright yellow flowers, it might be nothing more than pretty if it didn't have so much cultural significance.
The Pre-Conquest Mayans used two species of stingless bees to produce honey for them. The honey was important as a food, medication, and for religious sacrifice. Contemporary Mayan people still gather honey from these semi-domesticated bees.
Tajonal plants are abuzz with bees during the flowering season. These same bees are the descendants of the species used for thousands of years by the Mayans.
When you travel to archeological sites in the Yucatan you can see evidence of the value tajonal had to the ancient Mayans.
The design was picked up and used in colonial structures such as churches...
...and it was adopted in the 20th century in modernist designs like this:
I'm still looking for a photo I took of Tajonal shampoo that I bought in Carillo Puerto, but I can't seem to find it in my over 1500 flickr photos from Mexico!