Feature Image

Scarlet Cup Cactus
El Carmen Nature Reserve
Alejandro Espinosa

June 2, 2016. Earth / A Gift of Nature

Mexican Diversity of Flora

Of all the countries on Earth, Mexico is one of the most endowed with biodiversity and is home to a substantial number of plant species

Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D, Nigel J.Collar, Dr. Tracy Farrel, Barbara Goettsch, Vance Martin, Roderic Mast, Jeffrey A. McNeely, Cristina Goetsch Mittermeier, Russell A. Mittermeier, Fabian Oberfeld, Trevor Sandwith, Dr. Jane Smart, Dr. Richard Sneider, Gregory S. Stone & Michael P. Totten

Mexico is the original source for many of the world’s economically important crops, including maize, beans, peppers and tomatoes, among other natural wonders.  These wild plants became so intricately woven into the agrarian history of so many cultures for so long that many have forgotten—or perhaps never knew—their roots reside in the lands of Mexico.

Since the era of early exploration and discovery, the native flora of Mexico has been highly sought after as well.  This includes cacti, dahlias, salvias, and poinsettias, to name a few; each has been cultivated to enrich and beautify gardens and form collections all around the world.

Of all the countries on Earth, Mexico is one of the most endowed with biodiversity and is home to a substantially greater number of plant species than the United States and Canada combined (about 18,000), and more than twice as many as all of Europe.

Mexico possesses the highest diversity of cacti in the world (circa 800 species), reaching their highest manifestation in arid lands. It is no coincidence that the Aztecs cultivated what were, as best we know, the world’s first botanical gardens.  It may well have been the discovery of these gardens in Mexico what provided the original stimulus for the formation of the first botanical gardens in Europe early in the 16th century.

Recognizing the critical importance of Mexico’s plants for the nation and indeed for the world, the Mexican Strategy for Plant Conservation was launched in 2007.  Finally, promoting botanical gardens as plant conservation networks and supporting the already active participation in initiatives such as Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Project would constitute indispensable elements in a integrative national effort to preserve the plants of Mexico.


This is an excerpt from the CEMEX Conservation Series A GIFT OF NATURE (2012)


A Gift of Nature

Twenty Years of Conservation & Photography

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