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Plants and Animals

Cities in MEXICO

Mexico city Playa del carmen Riviera maya

Plants and Animals


Mexico has a very extensive and varied flora with more than 20,000 plant species. Flowery plants such as the begonia and the dahlia are native to Mexico. Valleys and ridges are covered with flowering trees such as bougainville, magnolia, jacaranda tree, West Indian red jasmine, oleander, poinsettia, hibiscus, banderillo flower and gardenia. The 700 varieties of orchids are also colorful.

Jacaranda, MexicoJacaranda, MexicoPhoto: Soulreaper (assumed) in het publieke domein

Mexico also has the most cactus species in the world on its territory. Two thirds of the 6000 known species can be found in Mexico, especially in the states of Baja California, Sonora, Puebla, Oaxaca and Guerrero.

Special species are the up to 20 meters high and 300 year old saguaro cactus and the maguey or Agave americana, which is used to separate fields and roads and provides a basic raw material for the national alcoholic drink tequilla. The disc cactus is grown for its fruits and leaves, both of which are edible.

Agave americana, MexicoAgave americana, MexicoPhoto: Marc Ryckaert (MJJR) CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

At higher altitudes, there are mixed forests with Montezuma pines, cypresses and eucalyptuses from Australia. Many types of agaves, disc cacti and well-known yucca grow on the savannas.

In the moist areas of the "tierra templada" grows the national tree of Mexico, the ahuehuete, a giant cypress. Mainly in Chiapas and Yucatán we still find one fifth of the original rainforest of Mexico. Mulberry trees, fallow nut trees, sapotilla trees and the tall guanacastes grow here. In between climbing plants, ferns and lianas. The national flower of Mexico is the dahlia.

Ahuehuete, national tree of MexicoAhuehuete, national tree of MexicoPhoto: Heterotrofo CC 4.0 International no changes made
Dahlia, national flower of MexicoDahlia, national flower of MexicoPhoto: Marktee1 at en.wikipedia CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

In 1998 thousands of forest fires raged in Mexico, burning about 500,000 hectares of pastureland and forest land. Most of the fires were started by farmers in order to make the soil more fertile for the next crop. This year, however, the fires could no longer be controlled and, among other things, a unique tropical forest in the Chimalpas region was irreparably damaged.


More than 1000 bird species live in Mexico, of which about 750 in the rainforest. The protected island of Contoy is home to the white flamingo and another special bird is the Mexican jay. There are also about 60 species of hummingbirds.

Mexican jayMexican jayPhoto: Alan Vernon CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Contoy Island is one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the Caribbean. Macaws and toucans are still common in the tropical rainforests, but the beautiful quetzal is threatened with extinction. The national bird of Mexico is the golden eagle.

Golden eagle, national bird of MexicoGolden eagle, national bird of MexicoPhoto: Rocky CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The monarch butterfly lives in the northern United States and Canada in the summer. Towards the end of the summer they migrate south and on November 1 they arrive punctually in the village of Angangueo in Michoacán state. During the winter they stay there, die at some point, but their offspring travel north again and this cycle repeats year after year. Sometimes there are so many butterflies in the trees that branches bend!

Monarch butterfly, MexicoMonarch butterfly, MexicoPhoto: LyWashu CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Wolves still occur sporadically in the northern deserts. The coyote, on the other hand, is still very common. Other desert animals include hares, rabbits, badgers, snakes, insects and lizards. Almost all are nocturnal animals that are hunted by the bobcat. The green and the black iguana are crested lizards (iguana) that hardly stand out because of their camouflage color. They can grow up to two meters long. Special is the basilisk or "Jesus Christ lizard", which can walk on water.

Striped basilisk, MexicoStriped basilisk, MexicoPhoto: Bernard DUPONT CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The rare jaguar is still found in the southern tropical rainforests, along with the related ocelot, margay and jaguarundi. A special predator is the silver-gray cougar or silver lion, which now only occurs in the mountains.

Jaguar, MexicoJaguar, MexicoPhoto: Petruss CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Many species of turtles live in and around Mexican rivers and lakes. including the giant sea turtle caguama. This area is also the hunting ground for alligators and crocodiles. Among the many fish, the special largemouth bass and rainbow trout can be mentioned.

Trout, MexicoTrout, MexicoPhoto: Robert Pos CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The largest Mexican mammal is the Central American tapir. Anteaters, armadillos and coatis are common and live at the bottom of the rainforest. Tree porcupines and various types of monkeys, including howler monkeys, live in the trees. The volcano rabbit, in Mexico also known as teporingo or zacatuche, is limited to a few areas on the Popocatépetl and adjacent mountains and has declined in numbers very sharply.

Volcano rabbit, teporingo or zacatucheVolcano rabbit, teporingo or zacatuchePhoto: ProtoplasmaKid CC 4.0 International no changes made

Large groups of gray whales can be seen off the coast of Baja California from January to mid-March, which, among other things, give birth to their calves here. In addition, the seas around Mexico include dolphins, redfish, gold mackerels, barracudas, rays, swordfish, dolphins, marlins, squid, tuna and sharks (including bullhead shark, lemon shark and nurse shark) Many species of coral fish live around the coral reefs and in the lagoons.

Lemon shark, MexicoLemon shark, MexicoPhoto: Albert Kok CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

It is estimated that one hectare of rainforest is good for approx .:

15 tree species

25 orchid species

20 bird species

10 mammal species

150 butterfly species

2500 kinds of insects

American scientists have discovered a vegetarian spider in the jungles of Mexico and Costa Rica, it was announced in October 2009. The Bagheera Kiplingi lives in South America and feeds on the leaves and buds of plants. As far as is known, the Bagheera Kiplingi is the only one of the more than 40,000 spider species that is not a carnivore. Since no prey has to be caught, the animal does not spin a web.

Bagheera kiplingi, MexicoBagheera kiplingi, MexicoPhoto: Maximilian Paradiz CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

In May 2014, it was revealed that on the Mexican volcanic island of Clarion, one of the four Revillagigedo Islands, the Clarion nocturnal snake has been rediscovered. In 1936, the snake was discovered by the naturalist William Beebe. He found only one specimen, further searches yielded nothing, until now. At least eleven specimens were found.

Mexico is the country with the most poisonous animals: 80 in all, including snakes, spiders and centipedes in particular.

Common lancehead, most dangerous snake in MexicoCommon lancehead, most dangerous snake in MexicoPhoto: Danleo CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


Daling, T. / Mexico : mensen, politiek, economie, cultuur, milieu
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen / Novib

Dunlop, F. / Mexico
Van Reemst,


Rokebrand, R. / Mexico

Rummel, J. / Mexico
Chelsea House Publishers

Wagenvoort, E. / Reishandboek Mexico

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info