The ceremonial use of the threatened "españada" cycad (Dioon merolae, Zamiaceae) by a community of the central depression of Chiapas, México
AbstractDioon merolae De Luca, Sabato et Vázq.Torres, a cycad species from Chiapas known locally as espadaña, plays a very important role during the Santa Cruz festival of May 3rd amongst the community of Suchiapa in the Central Depression of Chiapas. Its leaves are used to adorn altars during this religious Catholic festival every May. It appears to be a pre-Hispanic native Chiapanec tradition that has undergone syncretism into Catholic practice during colonial times. The cycads do not appear to be harmed by the annual pruning of leaves but the current threat to the plant populations and this ageless tradition comes from activists of other religious traditions who deliberately set fire to the cycad habitat during the dry season prior to leaf collecting.
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