Some Science On Ramon

RamSci1Ramón and Maya Ruins: An Ecological, not an Economic, Relation

 J. D. H. Lambert and J. T. Arnason

New Series, Vol. 216, No. 4543 (Apr. 16, 1982), pp. 298-299

RamSci2Observations on Maya Subsistence and the Ecology of a Tropical Tree

Charles M. Peters
American Antiquity
Vol. 48, No. 3 (Jul., 1983), pp. 610-615
We have a sizable team, including our staff members of Maya heritage as well as those who know the forest ecology as part of their work, plus two summer interns, a chef, and a design director among others–all looking into this tree and its fruit. These journal articles, less dry than some academia and fresher than their age would suggest were brought to my attention by Nicoletta Maestri who I thank for the article below. For my team mates and me this is food for thought on our path to determining how this tree, introduced millennia ago by Mayans, plays into the future of Chan Chich Lodge:

Brosimum Alicastrum, The Ancient Maya Breadnut Tree

Did the Maya Build Forests of Breadnut Trees?

The breadnut tree (Brosimum alicastrum) is an important species of tree that grows in the wet and dry tropical forests of Mexico and Central America, as well as in the Caribbean Islands. Also known as the ramón tree, asli or Cha Kook in the Mayan language, the breadnut tree usually grows in regions that are between 300 and 2,000 meters (1,000-6,500 feet) above sea level. The fruits have a small, elongated shape, similar to apricots, although they are not particularly sweet.The seeds are edible nuts which can be ground and used in porridge or for flour.


The breadnut tree is one of the dominant species of plants in the tropical Maya forest. Not only its density very high around ancient ruined cities, particularly in the Guatemalan Petén, but it can reach a height of around 40 m (130 ft), producing abundant yields and with several harvests possible in one year. For this reason, it is often still planted by modern Maya near their homes.

The widespread presence of this tree near ancient Maya cities has been explained variously as:

  1. The trees could be the result of a human-manicured or even deliberately-managed tree farming (agro-forestry). If so, it is likely that the Maya first simply avoiding cutting the trees down, and then eventually replanted breadnut trees near their habitations so that now they propagate more easily
  2. It is also possible that the breadnut tree simply grows well in the limestone soils and rubble fill near ancient Maya cities, and the residents took advantage of that
  3. The presence could also be the result of small animals such as bats, squirrels, and birds which eat the fruits and seeds and facilitate their dispersion in the forest


The role of the breadnut tree and its importance in ancient Maya diet has been at the center of many debates…

Read the whole article here.

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