General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Apr 2021/3 Alligator
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Resplendent Quetzal photo by Steve Bird

Aztec Flora and Fauna

According to Alejandro de Avila (Flora: The Aztec Herbal), Mexico boasts one of the richest and most complex floras on the planet, with an estimated total of between 23,000 and 30,000 species.
We’re delighted to launch these pages in collaboration with Renee McGarry, doctoral candidate in art history at the City University of New York Graduate Center. Her dissertation, Exotic Contact: Flora and Fauna in Mexica (Aztec) Visual Culture, considers how plants and animals are represented in Aztec sculpture and painted books.

‘Why no bears in Aztec mythology?’

Read of the important links between the Aztecs and the pelican...

Hear the (brief!) sound of a hummingbird - Tlacatecco website

IntroductionPlants and animals had a strong cosmomagical

meaning in the lives of the Mexica/Aztecs

ArmadilloIn ancient Mesoamerica armadillos

were associated with fertility and abundance...

Armadillos - the view from La HuastecaHow are armadillos viewed

on the ground in La Huasteca?

CempoalxóchitlThe Aztecs had their own poppy

or ‘flower of the dead’

DeerIn Mesoamerica the deer

was ‘a mythological animal par excellence

AxolotlThe rare and endangered axolotl

- and its cultural importance in Mexico

SunflowerThe sunflower - one of Mexico’s

many gifts to the world...

The Jaguar in MexicoFrom Olmec to Aztec, the jaguar

prowls the art of most ancient Mexican civilisations

EagleFor the Mexica the eagle hunts like a sunbeam,

and leads the sun across the sky...

CactusCacti have been a source of food

and medicine for millennia

DogThe career of dog breeder must have

been a lucrative one in pre-Hispanic Mexico


had a Jekyll & Hyde nature - so very Aztec!

The Astonishing AxayacatlThe astonishing Axayacatl

nourished the growing Aztec empire

QuetzalRare, stunningly beautiful, elusive, an artist’s dream

- is the quetzal the ultimate symbol of beauty?

MolluscsMolluscs were both useful

and symbolic in the Mexica empire

Frogs and toadsWhile frogs helped feed the Aztecs,

toads helped feed their religion...