The flower that was appropriated by the US and that Mexico fights to recover

The Cuetlaxóchitl or Christmas Eve flower is typical in Christmas decorations and New Year's Eve, but despite being patented by an American family, in Taxco, Guerrero fights for its cultural reappropriation and recognition of its Mexican origin.

The Cuetlaxóchitl or Christmas Eve flower
The Cuetlaxóchitl or Christmas Eve flower

It is a striking flower: its classic version is red and elongated petals, although in ravines and less populated areas of Taxco, it also occurs in yellow.

"If you go through the ravines and hollows in the mountains of the regions bordering Taxco, you can see the plant in its natural state, it's simpler than the one that is commercialized, it's less perennial, with long leaves," he told Sputnik. Satunino Abarca, originally from Guerrero, former president of the Sociedad Mexicana de la Cuetlaxóchitl.

This civil association was born with the aim of making known that Taxco (Guerrero) is a place where the Cuetlaxóchitl (red flower of Christmas Eve) has a very important settlement, explained Abarca, because officially, according to the historical data revealed, "the first ambassador of The US in Mexico, back in the middle of the 19th century, was here in Taxco, visited Santa Prisca, where he saw the plant and took it to the United States. "

The first US ambassador to Mexico was Joel Roberts Poinsett, between 1825 and 1829, until he was expelled from the country and considered persona non grata by the Mexican government, due to his constant intrusion into the affairs of the country.

"Later he was in charge of making a series of genetic manipulations to what we know today as the Christmas Eve flower, which for us in Nahuatl is the Cuetlaxóchitl," said Abarca. Cuetlaxóchitl is a Nahuatl word, the main pre-Hispanic language in number of living speakers in Mexico. "The flower of Nochebuena-Cuetlaxóchitl is local in its origins," he explained.

After the plant was named "Poinsettia" in the United States in honor of its owner, it was patented by a scientist Paul Ecker, whose family maintains the intellectual property of the seed they were improving.

"The Tlaxcho variety is created, which recovers the original properties of the plant and has peculiar characteristics that other plants do not have," he explained. Abarca was president of the Sociedad Mexicana de la Cuetlaxóchitl, which for the last decade has been working for the recognition of the origin of this endemic Mexican flower. "At first we wanted to take ownership of this heritage, so much so that a year ago when he was still president, the Government of the state of Guerrero decreed the Cuetlaxóchitl as tangible heritage of Guerrero," he said.

Abarca explained that they are working so that this recognition is obtained also from the Mexican Federal Government and from international spheres, such as Unesco, where they seek to be recognized as the flower of peace and friendship among peoples.

"We can not call it the Mexican national flower because it already exists, it's the dahlia, it's funny because I would think it could be the cempasúchil [flower of the dead] or the Cuetlaxóchitl, but it's the dahlia, which also has pre-Hispanic origins, Mexican origins", explained Abarca to Sputnik. "We seek to recognize that Mexico, no longer our municipality, is the father of that flower, of that plant, appropriating it in the cultural, nutritional and economic," he added.

In Taxco, explained Abarca in dialogue with Sputnik, there are producers of the Cuetlaxóchitl that already plant and grow in their nurseries. "The Mexican society of the Cuetlaxóchitl organizes a festival for 10 years, with the aim of seeking local, state, national and international recognition of this plant, but above all to generate new proposals for development," he said.

He explained that since then a wider use has been promoted, beyond the typical decoration of the holidays at the end of the year. "In Taxco and the region, not only used in the celebrations of Christmas or New Year, has a range of uses ranging from ritual, mortuary, religious, economic, political, social, cultural and aesthetic," said .

The most colorful is a cultural festival that takes place on these dates, which each year since seven, ride the largest Cuetlaxóchitl in the world. "This year was the seventh that we put together with more than 6,000 plants, but on another occasion there were more than 12,000 plants that make up this rug."

In addition, during the last three years, from the cultural festival was generated a germplasm bank of the flower and a seed bank, called Vicente Guerrero, "where they are preserved more than 100 seeds of regional products where, hopefully not happen but In some catastrophe, we would have a seedbed available to restart life, "Abarca told Sputnik.

In Taxco, as part of the reappropriation of the red flower, a scientific colloquium is organized that delves into the study of its medicinal and nutritional uses. "Its leaves, the red part we know, are food, they can be used to garnish desserts, soups, beverages." Cuetlaxóchitl is an industry that exploits the Ecker family very well, to which taxes have to be paid when commercial use is made. This plant, we are looking for recognition for the Cuetlaxóchitl or flower of Christmas Eve, that is known to be a gift that Mexico gives the world, "he concluded.

Information from: Sputnik