Flora and Fauna of Guatemala - Names and Photos

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Guatemala is one of the 19 countries with the greatest biological diversity in the world or megadiverse countries. Referring to the immensity of nature that it houses, the name of the country itself means "place of many trees" in Nahuati (aboriginal language of the region). The Pachamama (or Mother Earth) of Guatemala presents a mega diversity of plant and animal species, including numerous endemic species of Guatemala, that is to say, that we can only and exclusively find them in this corner of the planet.

But, flora and fauna aside, another of the main attractions of the country are its volcanoes, especially the Fuego volcano, the Tajumulco (the highest peak in the country) and the Pacaya volcano, one of the most active in the world; Because Guatemala is located between three tectonic plates (those of North America, the Caribbean and the Cocos).

Let's travel by reading this Green Ecologist article to Central America to discover the wonderful species of flora and fauna of Guatemala.

Characteristics and climate of Guatemala

There is a great variety in the Guatemala climate, due to the great difference in altitudes that it presents in its territory, going from sea level in the coastal areas to 4,220 meters of altitude of mountainous relief.

On the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the climate is humid and warm-tropical, respectively. On the other hand, the central plateau area of the country is temperate, while in the high regions the climate is cold mountain and in the eastern areas, arid and dry.

This country full of wildlife has 32% of its territory under the National System of Protected Areas, where a total of 243 areas are home to different national parks and forest reserves, as well as Biosphere Reserves and wildlife refuges.

Its most precious natural resource is undoubtedly its soil. Highly fertile and rich in minerals, the Guatemalan soil is responsible for the fact that Guatemala is essentially a forest country.

We already know the main geographical characteristics and the climate of the country, let's get to know the flora and fauna of Guatemala in the following sections.

Flora of Guatemala

The flora of Guatemala includes more than ten thousand different species of plants. In recent years, new species have been described within magnolias (genus of plants that appeared and evolved on Earth more than 95 million years ago), and the tillandsias (Plants native to Central America, with epiphytic growth, that is, they are epiphytic plants or that grow on another plant or object that they use as a support).

Within the Guatemala plants most representative include:

  • The oil palms of corozo (Elaeis oleifera).
  • The pinabete (Abies guatemalensis).
  • The ceibas (Ceiba speciosa).

The latter is the national tree of Guatemala, being considered by the local population as a sacred tree. It is large in size and its pink flowers are commonly used as ornamentation.

Between the Guatemalan tree species, highlight numerous medicinal plants and wood resources, such as:

  • The sapodilla boyManilkara zapota).
  • Ebony (Diospyros ebenum).
  • Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla).

Fauna of Guatemala

Among the species that constitute the biodiversity of the fauna of Guatemala We can find 720 species of birds, 244 of mammals, 245 of reptiles, 147 different species of amphibians and more than 1,000 species of fish that swim in the Atlantic and Pacific waters that bathe the country's coasts.

The endemic species of Guatemala we can find them mainly within the groups of amphibians and reptiles. The salamander stand out Bolitoglossa pacaya (lives on the slopes of the Pacaya volcano) and the scorpion lizard (Heloderma charlesbogerti), known to be one of the most poisonous lizards that inhabit the dry forests of the east of the country. This lizard is one of the endangered animals in Guatemala, currently in critical condition, since there are less than 500 specimens, being considered one of the most threatened lizards in the world.

Other endemic animals of Guatemala that are part of the reptile group are the iguana Ctenosaura palearis (It is easy to find it in the semi-arid regions of the country) and the poisonous snake commonly known as Coral of the volcanoes (Micrurus stuarti), which has striking scales with black, yellow and red bands; colors that indicate that it is a dangerously poisonous species.

We couldn't finish this section on Guatemala animals without naming the majestic and incredible jaguar (Panthera onca). This feline has been venerated in Guatemalan culture since pre-Hispanic times, although at present it is part of the group of animals in danger of extinction in Guatemala, due to the numerous threats they suffer in their natural habitats. Here you can learn more about this animal and know why the jaguar is in danger of extinction.

If you want to read more articles similar to Flora and fauna of Guatemala, we recommend that you enter our Biodiversity category.

  • C. Gamazo (2016) Guatemala: the communities that saved the mahogany in the Maya Biosphere Reserve. MONGABAY LATAM, Independent Environmental Journalism.
  • P. C. Standley & J. A. Steyermark (1958). Flora of Guatemala - Part I. Fieldiana, Bot. 24(1): 36-56.
  • D. Ariano-Sánchez & G. Salazar (2007). Notes on the distribution of the endangered lizard, Heloderma horridum charlesbogerti, in the dry forests of eastern Guatemala: an application of multi-criteria evaluation to conservation. Iguana 14: 152-158.
  • P. Coti & D. Ariano (2008). Ecology and traditional use of the Guatemalan black iguana (Ctenosaura palearis) in the dry forests of the Motagua Valley, Guatemala. Iguana 15 (3): 142-149.
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