CASKE 2000 > Survival > Food > Edible Plants: Tropical Rainforest


cohune9i.jpg (8549 bytes)  Edible Plants  wareepalmflower2ii.jpg (8603 bytes)
From the Rainforest



There are many plants, trees and fruits that can be used as a source of food in tropical rainforests. Here are a few we learned in Blue Creek, Belize.

Cohune Palm
(Orbigyna Cohune)

These large and tall palm trees grow up to 100 feet tall. They bear large clusters of fruits which look like miniature coconuts. The heart of the tree is also edible and the palms can be used to thatch roofs or make various objects.

Logging the tree  ;  Feeding from the heart   ;  The edible part  ;  Cutting the bark  ;  removing the bark 1  ;  removing the bark 2  ;  cutting the end  ;   Ready to be served  ;  Delicious jungle lunch

Waree Palm
(Astrocayum mexicanum)

This palm is found in abundance in the rainforest. The heart can be eaten as well as a part inside the flower casing and the flower itself which provides a lot of food.

Plant with Flowers   ;   Opening the Flower   ;   Collecting the Fruits   ;   Cutting the nuts   ;   Nuts and Flowers   ;   Open nuts and Flowers   ;   Opening a nut with the teeth   ;   Getting to the heart 1   ;  Getting to the heart 2   ;   Heart and Shoot   ;   The Heart ready to eat

Jippi Jappa
(Sabal Mexicana)

This plant is of the palm family. They have a long stem climbing straight up with the palm shaped like an umbrella. It grows wild in the rainforest and often in abandoned fields. You can eat the shoot (they look like the stem of a palm frond. The tender white heart of the shoot is delicious. The Jippi Jappa Palm is also used to weave baskets by the Mopan Mayas and Kekchi Indians.

The plant   ;   The shoot   ;   The edible part   ;   Ignacio eating it   ;   The edible flower

(Bactris Major)

Tree bearing clusters of small sweet and sour fruits with a tough skin and a large seed. Mayan people say it quenches their thirst. I quickly became addicted to it. If you like sour fruits, you will love the Pokenoboy. The darker the fruit, the sweeter it is, but even with a green skin, they are edible and delicious.

The grapes are easy to collect either directly from the tree with a machete, or by cutting the tree if needed (survival situation). You can bite off the shell-like skin on the stem end and squeeze most of the fruit into your mouth. The fruit ends up in your mouth and the shell between your fingers. Enjoy!

Fruits on the tree   ;  A Kekchi Indian boy eating them

Hog Plum
(Spondias mombin)

This sour plant tastes a little strange but Mayan children love it. It grows wild everywhere and particularly in abandoned fields. The stem can be chewed on raw.

JP eating Hog Plum   ;   The plant 

Finding water in the jungle

Water Vine

In Blue Creek Belize, we drank water from 3 different species of vines, but people call them all water vines. One of the species was a little bitter and tasted more like wood. It also produced less water. The other species provided an amazing amount of sweet, clear and delicious water. To get the water it is important to quickly cut the vine in two places. If only cut in one place, the water is absorbed back into the vital center of the vine.

Water Vine in the forest   ;  JP drinking from the vine

Collecting water

A few plants can be used to collect water when it rains. Also a few plants provide natural small reservoirs from which water can be drunk after the rain. More info coming soon!



Check our section about the Mentawai Indigenous People

Check our article about Irian Jaya (published by Wilderness Way magazine)

Check our section about Kekchi Indian and Mopan Mayas

Check our Adventure Stories page for action stories of rough days and tough times !

Return to Blue Creek Photo Gallery           Return to Mayan Culture

Return to: SURVIVAL         Return to: FORAGING FOR FOOD


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