Finca Milagros plant list

This is our list of plants that we use for Finca Milagros. These are plants that do well here, near Barichara at ca. 1000 meters elevation in the Andes mountains.

The plants are mostly native to this area unless otherwise indicated. A few are useful non-native and non-invasive plants. (I may add a list of other commonly used plants in the area with comments about each, but that’s for later.)

This reference page is a work in progress, and all the information is provisional and up for revision. It will be updated as we gain more experience and get more information. I will also make a Spanish version in time.

I have included a reference for most of the information. WP means Wikipedia. EIA refers to the Catálogo virtual de flora del Valle de Aburrá from EIA university. IN means iNaturalist. (NaturalistaCO.) EOL is Encyclopedia of Life. KEW is Royal Botanical Garden Kew. And the rest are the initials of people who have generously shared their knowledge with us.


General: Apps & Online Resources | Articles | Local Resources | General principles

Tall: Tall Trees

Mid-sized: Medium Trees | Bushes | Vines | Cactus | Thorny Plants

Smaller: Perennial Flowers | Annual Flowers | Succulents

Food Plants: Trees | Small Trees | Vegetables | Root Vegetables | Vines | Succulents | Herbs | Grains

Locations: Erosion Control | Grass | Near House | Pond | Road | Stone Fence

Other: Non-Native Plants | Invasive Plants | Under Consideration | Trees by Category



NaturalistaCO – website

iNaturalist – plant identification app

Identificación De Plantas Colombianas – Facebook group for identifying plants

Catálogo virtual de flora del Valle de Aburrá – from EIA university

Catálog de la Biodivsersidad Colombia

A few from the Royal Botanical Garden Kew I haven’t checked out yet:


Big Picture

Agroecology in Action / Agroecology training manual

What is syntropic farming? A permaculture perspective

How To

Guide to chinampas: How to build a floating garden – for instance, to clean ponds

How to build a swale on a contour


Akasha Permaculture Colombia – near San Gil

Fundación Guayacanal – non-profit organization with a focus on Cañon del Chicamocha


Annuals – mix annuals and perennials so always have something there (JL)

Ants – ants eat new, non-native, and weak plants. They serve a very important role in the ecosystem, cleaning and bringing nutrients into the soil. Native plants have co-evolved with these ants and have a natural protection. Non-native and young plants needs a lot of nourishment to stay as healthy as possible to protect them against ants. Use a LOT of mulch and also goat manure and microbes. (JL) Can also mix wood ashes into the mulch. (CG)

Combinations – plant a mix of plants together. Good ones to add are nopal, aloe, (JL)

Diversity – is a priority. As many different types of (native) plants as possible, at different levels of maturity so can replace each other, and at as many different mature heights as possible. (JL)

Mulch – for mulch, can use just about any organic material. Leaves. Chopped up branches. Compost. Even grass if the roots are dead (place them in the sun to dry out) and it’s free of seeds. The bottleneck is often getting enough organic material for mulch. (JL)

Paths – establish paths so people don’t accidentally step on new plantings. (JL) Also, observe where people naturally walk and establish the paths there (me).

Pond – small by road. Plant fique to hold soil in place close to where rainwater flows into the pond. Cordoncillo. Arro from cuttings. Carbonero. Arbustos. Establish paths so don’t step on plants. Can include some non-native. (JL)

Pond – main. Only use native plants. Aim for diversity. Let it mostly be as is, just add a few plants around the pond to provide shelter for the water and animals, and also some food for animals. Aro, carbonero (native), anturios (native), guamos, mamonsillo, agraz (native). Use papyrus (native) to absorb heavy metals and nitrogen, then remove the plant. Note: Only NATIVE microbes. (Not the Korean variety.)

Planting – (1) Include a mix of seeds in any planting. See what comes up. It will sort itself out, sometimes with the help of a little pruning (JL) (2) When planting trees, etc., include succulents and cacti (ca. 20cm distance from tree). E.g. nopal and agvae. (Mexican nopal near house, native everywhere else.) Guaque. (JL)

Trees – can plant a mix of caroclí, huesos, and ceiba for the largest trees on the land (JL) 

Tree pruning – (1) In general, only take out dead or visibily diseased branches. One exception may be mata ratón which can be pruned heavily and will grow back. (JL) (2) Have a pruning schedule to get enough organic matter, for instance prune once a month and rotate zones for pruning. (JL)

Tree planting – (1) In dry and compacted soil, make a big hole (40cm wide x 70cm deep) and fill it with good soil. This will help the tree during the dry season. (2) Include a mix of seeds of a variety of plants – flowers, bushes, trees. These will sort themselves out in time. (3) Place a log (or collection of smaller branches) with ca. 20cm diameter 1/2 way into the soil on two sides of the tree. The wood will help retain moisture. And use a thick layer of mulch with goat manure. Microbes are also good, and need lots of water (watering or ideally rain) to soak into the ground. (JL)

Vegetables – evolved in a climax ecosystem, grown in very fertile forest soil, so they need very good soil and nutrients to stay healthy. Add a LOT of mulch and also include goat manure and microbes. (JL)

Tall Trees


Aro / Trichanthera gigantea (JL)

  • Can use around the ponds, very good near ponds (JL)
  • Trichanthera gigantea is a species of flowering plant in the acanthus family, Acanthaceae (WP)
  • This plant is a shrub or tree growing up to 5 meters tall, though a 15-meter specimen was reported once. It often produces aerial roots. (WP)
  • This plant also has many uses for humans. It has uses in human medicine, including as a supplement to increase lactation in nursing mothers. It is used as a living fence and a shade tree (WP)
  • FM: received from town March 2023. By ponds, all around large pond, 1.5-2m apart (JL)
Brazilwood Wikipedia
Brazilwood (WP)

Brasil / brazilwood / Paubrasilia echinata (JL) – non-native

  • Good 
  • Paubrasilia echinata is a species of flowering plant in the legume family, Fabaceae, that is endemic to the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. It is a Brazilian timber tree commonly known as Pernambuco wood or brazilwood and is the national tree of Brazil (WP)
  • The brazilwood tree may reach up to 15 metres in height (WP)

Bucare / Erythrium poeppigiana / anaco (JL)

  • large tree, good for main pond (JL)
  • Also known as anaco (JL)
Caracoli Wikipedia
Caracolí (WP)

Caracolí / Anacardium excelsum / Wild cashew (JL/CG) – native

Carbonero / Calliandra pittieri (JL)

Caucho (JL)

  • Rubber tree, native to here, a type of ficus (JL)

Ceiba barrigona / similar to Ceiba pentandra (JL) ***

  • Large native tree, rare
  • Ceiba barrigona is the common name for two different trees, we have the one that’s native (JL)
  • The one you have is closely related to ceiba pentandra. But I believe it’s a different closely related species (JL)
  • Ceiba pentandra is a tropical tree of the order Malvales and the family Malvaceae (previously emplaced in the family Bombacaceae), native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America, and (as the variety C. pentandra var guineensis) West Africa. A somewhat smaller variety was introduced to South and Southeast Asia, where it is cultivated. (WP)
  • Cavanillesia hylogeiton, also known as Ceiba Barrigona, is a species of trees in the family Malvaceae. It is native to Colombia. (WP)

Ciruela / likely Spondias purpurea (JL)

  • Fruit tree with flowers (JL)
  • Native to the coast, grows well here (JL)
  • 15 meters (EIA)
  • Spondias purpura is a species of flowering plant in the cashew family, Anacardiaceae, that is native to tropical regions of the Americas, from Mexico to Brazil (WP)
  • Jocote trees have been used by the people of Mexico and Central America (Mesoamerica) for thousands of years, for both food and medicinal uses. The trees are also used to create living fences and to help stop soil erosion. A sap or gum from the tree is used as a glue and the same material is combined with sapote or pineapple to make a treatment for jaundice. (WP)
  • The thin skin has a waxy appearance and is edible. The pulp is yellow when ripe and sweet. In the center of the fruit is a large pit, or stone, which is inedible. The flavor of a S. purpurea fruit is said to be similar to a plum, sweet with a bit of an acidic aftertaste. (WP)

Cuji / Prosopis juliflora (JL) 

  • Native, very valuable, many of them on this land (CG)
  • Grows slowly, 12 meters (WP)
  • Prevents grass from growing under the crown (K) 
  • The sweet pods are edible and nutritious, and have been a traditional source of food for indigenous peoples in Peru, Chile and California. Pods were once chewed during long journeys to stave off thirst. They can be eaten raw, boiled, dried and ground into flour to make bread, stored underground, or fermented to make a mildly alcoholic beverage. Prior to Spanish colonization, the Guaraní people of South America brewed a beer from mashed Carob pods and wild honey. (WP_

Gallinero / Pithecellobium dulce / Madras Thorn / Manila Tamarind (native?) (CG)

  • beautiful tree, very nice looking for the land (CG)
  • Pithecellobium dulce is a tree that reaches a height of about 10 to 15 m. Its trunk is spiny and up to nine meters in girth and its leaves are bipinnate. Each pinna has a single pair of ovate-oblong leaflets that are about 2 to 4 cm long. The flowers are greenish-white, fragrant, sessile and reach about 12 cm in length, though appear shorter due to coiling. The flowers produce a pod, which turns pink when ripe and opens to expose the seed arils; a pink or white, edible pulp. The pulp contains black shiny seeds that are circular and flat. Pollen is a polyad of many pollen grains stitched together. (WP)
  • The seed is dispersed via birds that feed on the sweet pulp. The tree is drought resistant and can survive in dry lands from sea level to an elevation of 1,500 m, making it suitable for cultivation as a street tree. (WP)
Gaque native (WP)

Gaque nativa / Clusia multiflora (JL) 

Guamo / Inga vera (latin name not 100% certain) (JL) 

Guamo macho / Cupania americana (JL)

  • Pioneer species that attracts a lot of butterflies, medium size, great around pond and near the house (JL)
Gualanday flower (WP)

Gualanday / Jacaranda mimosifolia (JL)

  • Purple flowers, tall tree, can plant here, leaves on top and open lower down (JL)
  • Can get tall and fragile in strong wind, can prune to grow out and make stronger (JL)
  • 20 meter (EIA)
  • Jacaranda mimosifolia is a sub-tropical tree native to south-central South America that has been widely planted elsewhere because of its attractive and long-lasting violet-colored flowers (WP)
  • The tree grows to a height of up to 20 m. Its bark is thin and grey-brown, smooth when the tree is young but eventually becoming finely scaly. The twigs are slender and slightly zigzag; they are a light reddish-brown. (WP)
  • Jacaranda is a genus of 49 species of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. The generic name is also used as the common name (WP)
  • FM: Can plant on road to house and around house, and also by the main pond (more sheltered which is good for this tree) (JL)

Guásimo / Guazuma ulmifolia (JL) 

  • 20-30 meters (IN, WP), can be grown from cuttings or seeds. (WP)
  • commonly known as West Indian elm or bay cedar, is a medium-sized tree normally found in pastures and disturbed forests. This flowering plant from the family Malvaceae grows up to 30m in height and 30–40cm in diameter. (WP)
  • The species flowers throughout the year, in particular from April to October. Guazuma ulmifolia can be cultivated by either directly planting seeds or cuttings of the plant, as well as root stumps and bare-root seedlings. Before planting the seeds they need to be soaked in boiling water for 30 seconds; the water should be drained afterward. 7–14 days after fresh seeds are planted, germination occurs (60-80% rate). When they reach a height of 30–40cm which is usually about 15 weeks later they are then prepared for “outplanting.” When using root stumps as a means for propagation they are left to dwell in a nursery for some time until the diameter of the stem reached 1.5-2.5cm, which is usually about 5–8 months. (WP)

Guayacán rosado / Tabebuia rosea (JL)

Guayacán amarillo / Handroanthus chrysanthus (JL)

Hueso / ?? (JL)

  • Have several around the house
Mamoncillo (WP)

Mamoncillo / Melicoccus bijugatus (JL) 

  • Edible fruits (JL)
  • Native, can get from nurseries, plant from seeds (JL)
  • 12-18 meters (IN), 25 meters (WP)
  • When ripe, the fruits have a bittersweet, wine-like flavour and have mild laxative properties. They are extremely rich in iron and phosphorus (WP)
  • Melicoccus bijugatus is a fruit-bearing tree in the soapberry family Sapindaceae, native or naturalized across the New World tropics including South and Central America, and parts of the Caribbean. Its stone-bearing fruits are edible. It is also called Bajan ackee, genip, guinep, genipe, ginepa, kenèp, quenepa, quenepe, quenette, chenet, skinup, talpa jocote, mamón, limoncillo, canepa, skinip, kenepa, kinnip, huaya, or mamoncillo (WP)

Mata ratón / Gliricidia sepium (JL) ***

  • Native, have a lot (CG)
  • Very good, grows fast, can grow from cuttings (JL) 
  • Can prune heavily (JL) 
  • 18 meters (EIA), 10-12 meters (WP)
  • G. sepium trees are used for intercropping in part because they fix nitrogen in the soil and tolerate low soil fertility, so when they are interplanted with crops they can boost crop yields significantly, without the need of chemical fertilizers. (WP)
  • G. sepium is a fast-growing ruderal species […]. Because it is easily propagated and grows quickly, it is also planted to prevent topsoil erosion in the initial stages of reforesting denuded areas, and as an intermediate step to be taken before introducing species that take longer to grow. (WP)

Nauno / Albizia guachapele (JL) – native

Oreopanax capitatus (JL) 

Senna spectabilis (WP)

Yarumo / Cecropia peltata (JL) 

Medium size


Anón fruit (WP)

Anón / Annona squamosa / sugar-apple / sweet-sop

Carate / Vismia baccifera (JL)

Guanábana fruit (WP)

Guanábana / Annona muricata / soursop

Guayaba cimarrón / Psidium guineense (JL)

Palmas Nacumas o Anacumas o palmas de JipiJapa (CG) 

  • Should be close to water, they serve as shade and make organic matter in the soil (CG)
  • (deben estar cerca del agua sirven para la sombra y hacer materia orgánica en el suelo) (CG)
  • Carludovica palmata (Panama hat plant or toquilla palm) is a palm-like monocot plant. It is not a true palm. Its leaves are different from the leaves of true palms, and unlike true palms it does not develop a woody trunk. (WP)
  • 1.5-2.5 meter (WP)
  • (jipijapa)

Pomarrosa / Syzygium jambos / rose apple (JL)

  • From Asia, naturalized here, has been here for 500 years, acts like a native, does well in this ecosystem (JL)
  • The fruit is eaten by animals and humans, can plant by pond (JL)
  • Syzygium jambos is a species of rose apple originating in Southeast Asia and occurring widely elsewhere, having been introduced as an ornamental and fruit tree. (WP)
  • Syzygium jambos is a large shrub or small-to-medium-sized tree, typically 3 to 15 metres high, with a tendency to low branching (WP)

Plumeria / is Plumeria alba or very similar (JL) 

Senna spectabilis (JL) 

  • Tree, plant from seeds, yellow flowers, good for bees (JL)
  • Senna spectabilis is a plant species of the legume family (Fabaceae) in the subfamily Caesalpinioideae native to South and Central America. (WP)
  • Senna spectabilis is a shrub or deciduous tree that can grow anywhere from 4 to 5 meter in height and 4-5 meter in width. S. spectabilis have a rounded vase-shaped crown, which is dense and symmetrical. S. spectabilis is pollinated by bees and has a very fast growth rate. (WP)

Tecoma stans / yellow elder (JL) – tree or shrub

  • Native, good for hummingbirds, yellow flowers (JL)
  • Tecoma stans is a species of flowering perennial shrub in the trumpet vine family, Bignoniaceae, that is native to the Americas. Common names include yellow trumpetbush, yellow bells, yellow elder, ginger Thomas (WP)
  • Tecoma stans is a semi-evergreen shrub that can grow to a small tree 6 to 9 meters high. It features opposite odd-pinnate green leaves, with 3 to 13 serrate, 8- to 10-cm-long leaflets. The leaflets, glabrous on both sides, have a lanceolate blade 2–10 cm long and 1–4 cm wide, with a long acuminate apex and a wedge-shaped base. (WP)
Vachellia (WP)

Vachellia / Vachellia farnesiana (JL) **

  • Thorn tree, very good (JL)
  • White spines, have several small ones around the house (JL)
  • Can grow from seeds, have high germination rate (JL)
  • Vachellia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae, commonly known as thorn trees or acacias. (WP)
  • The members of Vachellia are trees or shrubs, sometimes climbing, and are always armed. Younger plants, especially, are armed with spines which are modified stipules, situated near the leaf bases (WP)
  • Vachellia farnesiana, also known as Acacia farnesiana, and previously Mimosa farnesiana, commonly known as sweet acacia, huisache, or needle bush, is a species of shrub or small tree in the legume family, Fabaceae. Its flowers are used in the perfume industry. (WP)


Agraz silvestre / Vaccinium meridionale / wild blueberry (JL)  

  • Put fruit in water to get the seeds out (JL)
  • Grows well with garbansillos (JL)
  • Can find on Camino Tovares (sp?) and in El Caucho, and also at nurseries (JL)
  • Vaccinium meridionale, agraz or Andean blueberry, is a species in the section Pyxothamnus of the genus Vaccinium, in the heath and heather family. It is found in the mountains of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela and may have been introduced to Jamaica (WP)
  • It is a shrub which measures from 1.5 m to 7 m in height (WP)

Añil / Indigofera tinctoria (JL) – not native,

Caesalpinia pulcherrima / peacock flower (JL) 

  • Native, beautiful
  • Yellow and red flowers 
  • Caesalpinia pulcherrima is a species of flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae, native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas (WP)
  • It is a shrub growing to 3 m tall. In climates with few to no frosts, this plant will grow larger and is semievergreen. (WP)

Cayeno / Hibiscus siniensis (JL) – not native, perennial ** NOTE: Use Malaviscus instead

  • Hibiscus, Asian
  • VERY good for hummingbirds (JL)
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, known colloquially as Chinese hibiscus, China rose, Hawaiian hibiscus, rose mallow and shoeblack plant, is a species of tropical hibiscus, a flowering plant in the Hibisceae tribe of the family Malvaceae (WP)
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is a bushy, evergreen shrub or small tree growing 2.5–5 m tall and 1.5–3 m wide. The plant has a branched taproot. Its stem is aerial, erect, green, cylindrical, and branched. (WP)

Chispeador / Chaetolepis (CG) – need more info

Chromolaena odorata (JL) **

  • Native flower, grows aggressively
  • Good for replacing grass, regenerating soil, and creating organic material (JL)
  • Attracts butterflies, bees (JL)
  • Good for the soil, grows in poor soil, (JL)
  • A lot in the bioparque, plant from seeds or transplant small plants (JL)
  • Can use instead of botón del oro (JL)
  • Chromolaena odorata is a tropical and subtropical species of flowering shrub in the family Asteraceae. It is native to the Americas, from Florida and Texas in the United States south through Mexico and the Caribbean to South America (WP)

Garbansillo / Duranta erecta (JL) 

  • Violet flowers, orange berries
  • Duranta erecta is a species of flowering shrub in the verbena family Verbenaceae, native from Mexico to South America and the Caribbean (WP)
  • Duranta erecta is a sprawling shrub or (infrequently) a small tree. It can grow to 6m tall and can spread to an equal width. Mature specimens possess axillary thorns, which are often absent on younger specimens. (WP)
  • The leaves and unripened berries of the plant are toxic, and are confirmed to have killed dogs and cats. However, songbirds eat the fruit without ill effects (WP)

Kohleria hirsuta (JL) – native, perennial

Malaviscus (JL) – native (?), perennial

Lantana (JL) – native, perennial

  • The native version has purplish white flowers, not in nurseries (JL)
  • Can find the red/orange from Central America in nurseries (JL)
  • Grows from fruit/seeds (JL)
  • Can pair with any tree (e.g. mango) (JL)
  • Lantana is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants in the verbena family, Verbenaceae. They are native to tropical regions of the Americas (WP)


Banisteriopsis muricata (JL) 

Passiflora / Passion flower (JL)

Uña de gato / Uncaria tomentosa / Cat’s claw

  • Pioneer species, very useful, creates a natural nursery for trees (JL)
  • Uncaria tomentosa is a woody vine found in the tropical jungles of South and Central America. It is known as cat’s claw or uña de gato in Spanish because of its claw-shaped thorns. The plant root bark is used in herbalism for a variety of ailments, and is sold as a dietary supplement. (WP)
  • Uncaria tomentosa is a liana deriving its name from hook-like thorns that resemble the claws of a cat. U. tomentosa can grow to a length of up to 30 m, climbing by means of these thorns. (WP)


Aloe (JL) ***

Fique / Furcraea andina (?) (JL) ***

In general, good in arid areas and for erosion control


Cactus in general 

  • In general, the cactus with big spines are the native ones, and the others growing here are good too. (JL) 
  • Many native to chicamocha canyon (JL) 
  • Can plant from pieces (JL)
    • Loosen soil below, plant, and pack the soil (JL) 

Nopal / ?? (JL) **

  • The one with large spines is native, use for most of the land (JL)
  • The one with small spines is Mexican and can be used for food, plant near house (JL)
  • Can include with any tree planting, 20-30cm away from the tree (JL)
  • Opuntia ficus-indica, the Indian fig opuntia, fig opuntia, or prickly pear, is a species of cactus that has long been a domesticated crop plant grown in agricultural economies throughout arid and semiarid parts of the world (WP)
  • Planted in hedges to provide a cheap but effective erosion control (WP)
  • Plant with other plants, trees, yucca, platains etc. (Paul / Ale)
  • Cut pieces and plant the pieces (Paul) (?)
  • There are about 114 known species in Mexico (WP)


Thorny plants

  • Attract water, gather moisture on the spines and brings it into the soil (JL)

Vachellia (the small around the house with white spines), veranera,


Achicoria / Cichorium intybus / Chicory (JL)

Anthurium (JL)

Heliconias / Platanillo / Lobster-claw (JL) – perennial

  • Are not native to here (JL)
  • Require watering, best close to pond or house for that reason (JL)
  • Good for hummingbirds (JL)
  • Looks like a small palm
  • Heliconia is a genus of flowering plants in the monotypic family Heliconiaceae. Most of the ca 194 known species are native to the tropical Americas (WP)
  • 5-15 years
  • FM: Planted by small pond (near road) and near house March 2023

Veranera / Bougainvillea glabra / Flor de paper (JL) – [which one is native?]

  • Thorns, good 
  • Bougainvillea is a genus of thorny ornamental vines, bushes, and trees belonging to the four o’ clock family, Nyctaginaceae. It is native to eastern South America, found from Brazil, west to Peru, and south to southern Argentina. Different authors accept from 4 to 22 species in the genus


Jengibre / ginger (JL) 

  • Good, require watering, good for hummingbirds (JL)
  • Ginger is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or ginger, is widely used as a spice and a folk medicine. It is a herbaceous perennial which grows annual pseudostems about one meter tall bearing narrow leaf blades (WP)

Tilo / Justicia pectoralis (JL) – perennial herb


Amaranth (JL) – annual

Calendula / Calendula officinalis (JL) – not native, annual

  • Calendula officinalis, the pot marigold, common marigold, ruddles, Mary’s gold or Scotch marigold, is a flowering plant in the daisy family Asteraceae. (WP)
  • The flower petals of the calendula plant have been used for medicinal purposes since at least the 12th century. Calendula is native to Mediterranean countries but is now grown as an ornamental plant throughout the world (WP)
  • Annual, 30-60cm

Cameacrista / Chamaecrista hispidula (JL) – native, annual

  • One is native, not in nurseries, attracts bees, grows in poor soil (JL)
  • Chamaecrista hispidula – is that one or one very similar that’s native to here (JL)
  • Chamaecrista is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae. Members of the genus are commonly known as sensitive pea. Several species are capable of rapid plant movement. Unlike the related genera Cassia and Senna, members of Chamaecrista form root nodules. (WP)
  • Also…
  • Chamaecrista nictitans is native to Colombia (IN). Chamaecrista nictitans, the sensitive cassia, sensitive partridge pea, small partridge pea or wild sensitive plant, is a herbaceous species of legume widely distributed through the temperate and tropical Americas. It is an annual plant capable of rapid plant movement—its leaflets fold together when touched (WP)

Cosmos / Cosmos bipinnatus (JL) ** annual

Lirios  (CG) 

Mirtos  (CG) 

  • Smells delicious 

Sunflower (JL) – annual, mostly non-native

  • Several are native, are in bioparque, the native are better for native bees (JL)
  • Broad leaves, grow in degraded soil, grow easily from seeds
  • Regular ones are also good (locals will call any plant native if it has grown here for a few generations) 

Flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies to have close to home (CG):

  • Platanillos (CG) ** 
  • Cayeños  (CG) 
  • Lirios  (CG) 
  • Mirtos  (CG) 

Food plants



Bananas – 18-24 months between produces fruit, 2m tall (JL)



Lemon tree

Mandarin tree


Orange tree




Note: Ants like to eat the leaves of citrus trees. They didn’t co-evolve with these ants so they didn’t develop natural resistance to them. So it’s especially important to use a deep layer of mulch for citrus trees, and also manure and microbes. (JL)


Papaya (CG / JL) **


Bore / Malanga / Taro (CG) 



Lettuce – in shade


Pumpkins – can grow anywhere (JL)


Bore / Malanga / Taro (CG) 



Passion fruit








Yerba Buena / mint


Amaranth (JL) 

  • Attracts insects 

Question: Nuts? Cinnamon? Strawberries?



  • Succulents – Agave, fique, aloe (JL)
  • Cactus – native ones have big spines, nopal (JL)
  • Trees – carate, mata ratón, yarumu (JL)
  • All thorny plants good – vachellia (JL)
  • Plant on contours (JL)

All these plants are hardy, do well on naked soil


  • One type of especially bad grass, grown for cows, is also native grass here (JL)
  • When remove, immediately replace with something else (JL)
  • Can replace with chromolaena odorata, native flower, grows aggressively, a good native flower (JL)


  • Trees
    • Carboneros (JL)
    • Gualanday (JL) – gets tall and thin
    • Guamo macho (JL) – good around house
    • Guayacas (JL) – around house and road to house perfect, creates a layer below huesos
  • Bushes
    • Hibiscus (JL)
    • Platanillo / Heliconia (JL) – need water
  • Perennial flowers
    • Justicia (JL) – near trees
  • Annual flowers
    • Cosmos


  • Carates (JL)
  • Mata Ratón (JL)


  • Aro ** (JL) – plant a lot around the main pond and some near the small pond 1.5m apart, 12m tall
  • Bucare (JL) – large, main pond
  • Carbonero, 12m ** (JL) – by main pond
  • Caracolí (JL) – large, main pond, easy to find
  • Cordoncillo (JL) – by main pond
  • Gualanday (JL)
  • Gallinero, 10-15m (JL)
  • Guamo macho (JL) – medium tree, great around pond and house
  • Guayaca, (JL) – from town, 2-3
  • Higueron (JL) – large tree, main pond
  • Mamoncillo (JL) – some fruit trees by main pond
  • Nacumos (JL) – by main pond
  • Orejero (JL) – large tree, main pond
  • Papyrus (JL) – native, by the shore and in the pond, provides habitat for frogs
  • Platanillo / Heliconia (JL) – have a few to plant, Need water
  • Flowers
    • Anthurium (JL) – red native flower
  • Fruit trees to feed the animals
    • Guamos, 4-30m
    • Mamoncillos, 12-18m
    • Native agraz, wild blueberry
    • Pomarrosa (JL) – rose apple
  • To clean the pond
    • Papyrus – native, to clean the water of toxins and excess nitrogen, can plant directly but better on a raft and remove (JL)
    • Buchon – cleans very well, not native, listed as invasive, side plants, spreads (JL)
  • General
    • Collect seedlings from the land (JL)
    • Want to increase diversity, protect the water (JL)
    • Mostly leave the big pond alone, with a few additional plantings, it’s already doing well (JL)
    • Plant food plants for key species (JL)
    • Use native plants (JL)
    • Only use native microbes near ponds (JL)

Around the pond- large trees to plant include Caracoli – anacardium excelsum, Higueron – I still haven’t found the species but there’s at least one growing near the water in Restaurante de las Piedras, Bucare – Erythrium poeppigiana also known as Anaco, Orejero – enterolobium cyclocarpum. All of these are native and attract an abundance of wildlife, and they are species that are more advanced.

Around the laguna I would also plant a diversity of native plants and trees, focusing on those that produce something for the water or a food source for a key species. But diversity is key, and native to this ecosystem. Replicate the plants you see in a zone around a natural spring. Carbonero, Cordoncillo, nacumos, agraz. You want more low and medium stratus species, or species that are okay with some shade. Planting anthuriums, cordoncillo, a lot of aro and some carbonero for protecting the water and building substrate, native papiros which provide an excellent ecosystem for frogs at the shore and even in the water, and some native fruit trees including mamoncillo


Passiflora / passion flower – a wine with beautiful flowers, have on land



Acacia mangium (JL)

  • Invasive after 20 years (JL)
  • Use in arid area (JL)
  • Not recommended, but can use if already have it

Note: Some especially useful non-native plants are included in the regular lists. This section is for less recommended non-native plants.


Botín de oro / Ranunculus acris / Meadow buttercup (CG) – invasive

  • Invasive, good for organic material (JL) ** 
  • Chromolaena odorata is a native alternative (JL) **
  • The plant is native to Eurasia, but has been introduced across much of the world so that it now has a circumpolar distribution. It is a naturalized species and often a weed in parts of North America (WP)


Moringa / Moringa oleifera (Paul) – not native

  • M. oleifera is a fast-growing, deciduous tree that can reach a height of 10–12 metres and trunk diameter of 45 centimetres (WP)
  • Moringa oleifera is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree of the family Moringaceae, native to the Indian subcontinent (WP)
  • When the plant is grown from cuttings, the first harvest can take place 6–8 months after planting. Often, the fruits are not produced in the first year, and the yield is generally low during the first few years (WP)
  • M. oleifera has numerous applications in cooking throughout its regional distribution. Edible parts of the plant include the whole leaves (leaflets, stalks and stems); the immature, green fruits or seed pods; the fragrant flowers; and the young seeds and roots (WP)



  • Brasil / brazilwood / Paubrasilia echinata (JL) 
  • Gaque clusia (JL)
  • Guamo / Inga edulis (?) (JL) 
  • Gualanday / Jacaranda (?) (JL)
  • Guásimo / Guazuma ulmifolia (JL) 
  • Guayacán rosado (JL)
  • Mamoncillo / Melicoccus bijugatus (?) (JL) 
  • Nauno / Albizia guachapele (?) (JL) 
  • Nauno (JL) 
  • Oreopanax capitatus (JL) 
  • Senna spectabilis (JL) 
  • Tecoma stans / yellow elder (?) (JL) 
  • Toche – the locals give that name to several types of trees with yellow flowers (JL) 
  • Yarumo (JL) 


  • Citrus – lemon, mandarin, oranges
  • Ciruela / Spondias purpurea (?) (JL)
  • Anón / sugar apple / Annona squamosa (CG) 
  • Guanábanos / soursop (CG) 
  • Gallinero / Pithecellobium dulce / Madras Thorn / Manila Tamarind (native?) (CG)


  • Citrus – lemon / oranges / mandarins  (CG) 
  • Pomaroso  (CG) 


  • Guamo Copero / Guamo Macheto
  • Guamo Chinivo 
  • Guamo Santafereño
  • Vainillo / Inga eriocarpa
  • Cují 
  • Caracolí 
  • Mata ratón