Mexico shelters more than 33 000
species of plants or flowers, among them 1000 kinds of cactus and
as many orchids, more than 2900 species of vertebrates among them
520 mammals, more than 1400 species of birds, among them 50 species
and flora of the highlands
It is one of the countries with the richest biodiversity.
In the central part and the south of Mexico,
the corn adapts to the summer rains and, without any irrigation,
is the main resource since prehistoric times. In the seventies,
they found from a wild plant seed, all the steps of the development
of corn, which allowed the Indigenous to go from a nomad existence
(lliving on hunting and gathering) to a life as sedentary farmers.
This cereal, with a yield 5 to 10 times better than wheat, is the
providence for the Mexican farmers. They eat it in very different
ways, mainly in tortillas, using corn crepe which is the
base of the food.
The second and third important resources after corn is the brown
bean or frijol, cultivated in dry areas by irrigation, and the small
very hot pepper, the chile, which usually flavors the meals.
The agave or maguey gives a sweet juice which,
once fermented, becomes a very popular alcoholic drink : the pulque
: This not demanding plant that we found next to the cactus, covers
vast cultivated fields on the central highlands. In Yucatán,
a variety produces the sisal, whose fibers are used. They cultivate
sugar cane and rice in the rich parts of the highland (Morelos
etc.).The consumption of wheat is increasing; the cultures are in
the North-East where huge works of dams and drilling completely
modified the half-arid vegetable environmental conditions. Finally,
we could find conifers in the wet mountains unless they have been
eroded after inconsiderate deforestations. So, forests of pines
still cover a big part of the two sierras Madré and volcanoes
of the 19e parallel. They are eternal snows and glaciers above 4
5 000 m.
The fauna of the highlands was quite poor before the exchange with
Europe : for hunting mainly cervidae and diverse small animals like
the armadillo, herd, etc ; there were also birds, from the eagle
of the sierras (national emblem) to the cute hummingbird of the
temperate lands, and even poultry like the turkey or guajolote,
that was one of the two indigenous stockers; the other one is a
small short-haired dog, scarce today. The predators are the coyote
and the wolf that you can hear roar by night in remote places of
the Occidental Sierra Madré.
Once, the humid lowlands were considerated unhealthy. It’s
inhabitants were victims of endemic malaria (probably brought by
the Europeans) and the terrible yellow fever (which happened in
Veracruz). These regions were less populated than during the pre-Hispanic time. It is not the case anymore. The state of Veracruz, stretched
all along the coast, grows corn that is sent to Mexico
City and the plateaus. The population grew a lot especially
along the powerful Papaloapan and Grijalva rivers where there have
been huge works during these last decades.
providence of oil
Some of the most important stocks of oil of Mexico
(and the world) are in the lowlands of the isthmus and the coasts
as well as under the waters of the Atlantic Gulf. Coatzacoalcos
is one of the export harbors. The centers of extraction, refinement
and petrochemical industry drew boom towns and totally modified
the geographic milieu, not always in a good way; except in Tecolutla,
which remained a tourist place with beaches and traditional production
The sides and coasts of the Pacific look less favorable because
they are more mountainous and have less water. The exception is
the region close to the border with Guatemala which has always been
a cacao-producing area. There is less than 800mm of rain in the
North-west, which is not a lot in a hot region with a lot of evaporation.
In the State of Guerrero,
the depressions of the rios Balsas and Tepalcatepec are covered
by steppe or half-desert vegetation such as huge cactus-candle,
the viejitos (« small old men », because of
the white hairs there are crowned with). Outside the Isthmus of
Tehuantepec, the huge convex coast of the Pacific, one can often
see the Occidental Sierra Madré drop steep into the ocean.
and flora of the lowlands
Although the whole backcountry is covered with mountains (except
the very North), these once desert coasts are very busy and populated.
In addition to the seaside resorts in low Michoacán,
and with the promise of not compromising the environment, the government
created in the seventies the harbor Ciudad Cárdenas with
the huge steel complex of Las Truchas.
In the far North-West, the huge works (drilling and dams) on the
rio Sinaloa, and in the Sonora of
the rio Yaqui, transformed half desert valleys with big cactus into
huge wheat or other cereal, cotton, tomatoes, or olive producing
regions, even with little rain. In the South, outside of the good,
old coffee plantations, the irrigated and cultivated surfaces are
limited due to the harshness of the dry sides of the Occidental
The biznaga is a plant very well- adapted to life in these unfriendly
regions. The spherical shape allows reducing to the minimum the
loss of water by evaporation. It also helps preserving the water
in its tissues by reducing the surface area through which water
can be lost by transpiration. As do other cacti, the biznagas have
large aromatic flowers with bright colors which attract butterflies,
hummingbirds, bats, honey bees and bumble bees that contribute to
its pollination. Its juicy and dry fruits are food for the reptiles,
birds and small mammal which help to spread the seeds. They grow
very slowly and require "nurse" plants which provide shade
and humidity, especially during the germination and the first steps
If the Eagle was the pre-Hispanic emblem of the highlands, the tiger
was the symbol of the hot lands — the jaguar, who is at least
as big as a mountain lion or red haired small Mexican lion. There
are also ocelots which are big stipple- coated wild cats. You could
also find the cervidae of the highlands in the tropical bushes where
there are vast uninhabited areas, the paradise of hunters. You could
also see green parrots, blue herons, pink flamingos, jabirus storks,
cranes with big beak and all kinds of water birds (kingfish, aigrettes,
frigates, etc..). In the same lagoons and rivers, there are caimans,
scarce because of the value of their skin, huge sea turtles, and
sometimes dangerous reptiles like the rattlesnake.
We can’t forget the orange Monarch
butterfly that goes breeding between November and March, from
Canada to the state of Michoacán.
There are about 250 millions of mariposas
See chapter related to monarch
Offshore the coasts of Baja California, we could see grey whales
(hopefully protected) coming from the arctic regions for breeding
in these waters and dolphins. The Gulf of California shelters one
third of the species of the sea mammals of the world.
Fishing in the ocean is worth it because it is
not practiced a lot despite the length of the coasts. One exception
is sport fishing, especially for the sail-fish which is named for
its vertical membrane raised up outside the water. The sail-fish
fights well, making fishing interesting. Big fish are abundant and
you can often see some of them from shore, such as giant rays which
don’t attack but could inadvertently turn over a boat.
Mexico is the hangout for many migratory birds
in winter time.
Many birds nest in the coastal regions, especially in the lagoons,
estuaries and also in Yucatán
Peninsula and the Pacific
The region of Ria Lagartos (North
of Yucatán) is invaded with
pink flamingos while the Pacific
Coast is the paradise of ducks for the hunters, as well for
The Caribbean Coast is
famous for diving. The sea turtles come here for breeding as well
as on the beaches of the Pacific.
|No comment has been yet posted on this page.|