Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Noche de Muertos 2010 - #3

Flor de Ánimas

Yunuen 116

Flower of Souls
Flor de Ánimas, Yunuén Island
Laelia autumnalis

All over Mexico the ubiquitous zempasúchitl flower(marigold) marks the observance of death. On the Meseta Purhépecha, the high Purhépecha Plateau, in addition to the marigold, a flower less well known is important and traditionally used for celebration of Night of the Dead. This is the delicate purple orchid, endemic to Mexico’s central highlands, called Flor de Ánimas (Flower of Souls). This orchid blooms abundantly in the fall in high oak forests. I have seen these blossoms in profusion on the nearby island of Yunuén on Lake Pátzcuaro.

The Orchidaceae epidendroideae epidendreae laeliinae laelia autumnalis grows in Mexico in the central to southern mountains at elevations of 1500 to 2600 meters. The blooms are fragrant and long-lasting. The bulbs of this orchid is one type of those traditionally used to make a paste mixed with cornstarch to mold figures such as that of the Virgen de la Salud in Pátzcuaro’s Basílica. Some medical research indicates that an extract of this orchid has antihypertensive and vasorelaxant properties; it is also said to cause abortion.

If you are an orquidophile, visit Artesanías La Mojiganga on Patzcuaro’s Plaza Vasco de Quiroga. The owner, Felipe de Ortega, helped me indentify the exact species and scientific name of the Flor de Ánimas. He has many types of orchid plants and items necessary to cultivate orchids.

The myriad orchid plants that Glen has put in the trees in our garden at La Jacaranda are busy pushing out the long, thin shoots that will bear the Flor de Ánimas. And soon we will see vendors offering long stems of these orchid blooms in the streets around the central plazas of Pátzcuaro. These and the street full of flowers that is set up next to the Plaza de la Basílica will herald the individual altars and the decorations in homes that are traditional for Night of the Dead.

Hasta más.

P.S. October 12th - Flor de Ánimas blossoms opened today on two of our plants in the trees at La Jacaranda. What a pleasure.

Mexican Association of Orchidology
More about Night of the Dead around Lake Pátzcuaro.
Photos on Flickr of
The Flowers.
Why not live in Patzcuaro?

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