Yucatan Plants that Harm … and Heal

August 11, 2019
For years, we’ve heard stories of some jungle plants~trees that you must not brush, or risk getting severe painful skin blisters that last for weeks.

We finally found some reliable reports, descriptions and fotos to describe the specific tree … the consequences of brushing the tree with bare skin … AND a proposed remedy.

These are called “Chechen blisters”
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

… Nasty stuff, eh?

Fortunately … as happens across the Americas, Native peoples have either found (or planted) the supposed remedy nearby to the source of the problem.    The proposed remedy comes from a tree called a Chaca tree.    Across Yucatan, Chechen & Chaca trees are found growing near each other, including at beach areas.

The black sap of the Chechen tree is reportedly poisonous, while the often-nearby Chaca has nectar is said to neutralize the Chechen’s poisonous sap. … Since we’re not trained Tropical-plant biologists,  we defer to the experts at the aptly named “Mayan Garden Club” of Akumal:

Chechen and Chaca Trees

They really are a marvelously talented group, whose superb report beautifully speaks volumes. … Here is their dandy report …  un-varnished, untouched, unedited:

*      *       *       *       *       *       *

“Chechen and Chaca Trees”

Mayan Garden Club September Tip of the Month

If you travel anywhere in the Yucatan and Riviera Maya jungle areas, you will eventually run into the Chechen tree and the nearby growing Chaca tree. The Chechen tree has black sap that seeps out of the grayish trunk , however, several trees in the Yucatan can look similar.

Chechen trees

Chechen and Chaca Trees”

Mayan Garden Club September Tip of the Month

If you travel anywhere in the Yucatan and Riviera Maya jungle areas, you will eventually run into the Chechen tree and the nearby growing Chaca tree. The Chechen tree has black sap that seeps out of the grayish trunk , however, several trees in the Yucatan can look similar.

The wood of (the Chechen tree) is very hard and prized for furniture and for building. The leaves are curly and often black-spotted with the sap.  The Chaca tree has a distinctive light brown bark that appears peeling in older trees. The wood is softer but the tree grows easily from just a limb being stuck in the ground or in a pot. It is often used to make living fence posts.

One of the trees, the Chechen (Black Poisonwood Tree), has sap that is very toxic and can cause a horrible rash and burn.  Even touching the leaves can cause a bad reaction.  Often you will not even know that you have been infected until the burning and itching rash appears.  It is similar to the worst poison ivy you have ever seen! Luckily, growing near the Chechen tree you will usually find a Chaca tree (also called Gumbo Limbo) which is an antidote to the Chechen’s poison — if applied in time.

Simply cut a piece of the bark of the Chaca tree vertically and wipe the inside on the affected area to neutralize the rash.  You may also make a tea with the bark to help rid your body of the toxins.  If you don’t use this in time, it may be necessary to use cortisone cream or even make a trip to the doctor.

The Legend

So why do these trees always grow near each other?  According to the Maya legend, two great warriors were brothers, but of entirely different personalities.  One, Kinich, was kind and loving while his older brother, Tizic, was hateful and angry.  Both fell in love with the same maiden, the beautiful Nicte-Ha. T hey declared a battle to the death to determine who would have her.

A terrible battle raged on, the moon hid, and black clouds filled the skies as the earth was torn apart and the heavens went into hiding. Eventually the brothers both died in each other’s arms.

In the afterlife, they begged for forgiveness and asked to return to the world of the living to see Nicte-Ha again.  The gods granted their wish and the brother Tizic was reborn as the Chechen Tree which burns and blisters anyone who touches it. The loving brother, Kinich, was reborn as the Chaca tree, which neutralizes the venom of the Chechen.  They both watch over Nicte-Ha who was reborn as a beautiful white flower. ”

*      *       *       *       *       *       *

Again, we thank the “Mayan Garden Club” of Akumal for their superb report, and congratulate them on their willingness to educate and inform others.

and as we do with all articles that include anything that looks or smells like medical or fiscal or tax advice:

Please Note that this article is for informational, educational and entertainment purposes only.   Consult the appropriate experts for professional advice and information before taking any actions that may impact your physical, mental, emotional or financial well being.

*      *     *     *
Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
© Steven M. Fry

Read on, MacDuff.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.