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    Get to Know the Bijagua a Tropical Plant of our Costa Rican Forests Widely Used by our Ancestors

    Getting to know our wonderful fauna

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    The spectacular Calathea or bijagua is widely distributed in the tropical forests from southern Mexico to Bolivia and has had multiple uses by our ancestors and grandparents. From roofs for ranches, to wrapping food such as tamales, burritos, raw meat and other foods. Also as an ornamental and decoration plant.

    They are plants that grow in a very dense and tight group of wide leaves, whitish and waxy on the underside and with long stems. The inflorescences are branched and consist of a cluster of closely packed, tubular bracts that can vary in color from yellow to brown or red.

    Classification:

    Plants / Herbs / Platanillas and related

    Taxonomy:

    Plantae / Spermatophyta / Liliopsida / Zingiberales / MARANTACEAE / Calathea

    Origin:

    Native Ame Tropics. Form of life: Terrestrial

    Uses:

    Avifauna support, Butterfly host

    The bijagua is a caulescent herb that reaches from 1 to 4 m. In Costa Rica it is found in humid and very humid forest between 0 and 400 m; both sides. It is one of the host plants of Saliana longirostris.

    In March the plants show their flowering. They are yellow flowers that come out of the bracts alternately. This type of flowering prevents pollination from one flower to another of the same plant. As a tradition, these bracts are used to make handicrafts.

    It is possible to observe the behavior of the leaves at different times of the day, since they close or open according to the temperature, time of day. In addition, the experience of eating tamales wrapped in this leaf and how it should be seared or cooked before wrapping the food.

    The leaves were used by our ancestors to wrap food, raw meat, salt, among others and to be carried in the saddlebags, during the journeys by our aborigines of different ethnic groups and in different areas of the humid tropics, of the national territory.

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