Pipitzcaquilitl : Porophyllum obtusifolium?

Porophyllum obtusifolium (?)

Images of P.obtusifolium are hard to come by.

Pipicha/Pipitza/Chepiche (Porophyllum tagetoides) (syn P.linaria) is a narrow leaved variety of poreleaf which is popular in Oaxaca (see Post Chepiche/Pipicha Porophyllum tagetoides ).

Pipitzca may or may not be this herb. There are several pore leafs that have been identified as pipitzca.

P.tagetoides (1) and P.punctatum (2) have been called pipitzca (Ortíz-Sánchez etal 2015) and even the naming of the herb P.obtusifolium is problematic as P.obtusifolium is often identified as P.coloratum.

The herb is often identified with the nomenclature P. coloratum (Kunth) DC. var. obtusifolium (Estrada etal 2016) but older texts (Johnson 1969) mention that there are differences and that “Porophyllum obtusifolium appears very similar to P. coloratam (sic) but has pale corollas.”

To add to the confusion P.macrocephalum (papaloquelite – a broad leaf variety of porophyllum) has also been identified as P.coloratum.

Porophyllum calcicola (3) has also been identified as pipitza (Sanz 2018) or pipisca (Monroy-Ortiz etal 2013) and P.nummularium (4) as pipitzca (Jiménez-Orocio etal 2015) (5)

The literal meaning of pipitzca in Nahuatl is (interestingly) “to grunt (of deer), to neigh/whinny (of horse) to scream (of eagle)”. It is an onomatopoeic word (6) and I’m thinking that the horse reference only came about after the arrival of the Spanish.

  1. (a narrow leaf variety of porophyllum) : The Medicinal Plants of Xoxocotla : Nahuatl Etymology and Uses in Traditional Medicine : https://www.tlahui.com/libros/fitxo.htm  : Accessed 23/06/20
  2. (a broad leaf variety of porophyllum) : http://enciclovida.mx/especies/183661-porophyllum-punctatum
  3. P.calcicola is also a contender for the identification of a variety of poreleaf known as tlapanche. (See Post Tlapanche)
  4. P.nummularium is a synonym of P.punctatum
  5. Pipitza and pipitzca may or may not be the same plant.
  6. The property of a word of sounding like what it represents. A word which has the property of onomatopoeia, such as “gurgle” or “hiss”.

The uncertainty that exists over this single plant goes a long way in demonstrating how confusing it can be to identify a particular plant and how important it is to be exactly correct when identifying a plant intended for consumption or medicinal use.

Salsa de Pipitza (goes well with barbacoa)


  •  ½ small bunch  pipitza
  • 6 tomates verdes (tomatillos)
  • ¼ medium sized onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 chile serranos or jalapeños**
  • Salt (to taste) 


  1. Wash the pipitza and remove the leaves from the stem, reserve.
  2. On a comal roast the tomatillos, onion, chilies and garlic, taking care not to burn them. Place all the ingredients in the molcajete, add a splash of water and salt to taste, roughly grind the ingredients into a salsa and rectify the salt.

**removing the seeds and veins from the chiles will make the salsa less spicy. Add more chopped pipitza leaves to make the flavour more intense.


  • Estrada, Ana Susana, Ortiz, Enrique, Villasenor, Jose Luis, Espinosa-Garcia, Francisco J  : The distribution of cultivated species of Porophyllum (Asteraceae) and their wild relatives under climate change. : Systematics and Biodiversity : Volume 14, 2016 – Issue 6 : Published online: 03 Aug 2016
  • Jiménez-Orocio O., MI Espejel-Carbajal and P. Peña-Garcillán. 2015. Flora of the beaches and coastal dunes of Mexico. Science Faculty. Autonomous University of Baja California. SNIB-CONABIO databases, project HJ007. Mexico DF
  • Johnson, Roy.R. : Monograph of the Plant Genus Porophyllum (Compositae: Helenieae) : The University of Kansas Science Bulletin : Vol XLVII : No 7. Jan 31, 1969 : pages 225-267
  • Monroy-Ortiz, Columba & Moya, Edmundo & Manzanares, Angélica & Sánchez-Quintanar, Concepción & Luna-Cavazos, Mario & Uscanga-Mortera, Ebandro & Flores-Guido, José & González-Romero, Vicente. (2013). Plants of Local Interest for Medicinal and Conservation Purposes in Morelos, Mexico. Ethno Med. 7. 1326. 10.1080/09735070.2013.11886443.
  • Ortíz-Sánchez, Amanda & Monroy-Ortiz, Columba & Romero-Manzanarez, Angélica & Luna-Cavazos, Mario & Castillo-España, Patricia. (2015). Multipurpose function of home gardens in the family subsistence. Botanical Sciences. 93. 791. 10.17129/botsci.224.
  • Sanz, Nuria : (2018) : El Origen y la evolución de la producción de alimentos y su impacto en los patrones de consume (The Origin and evolution of food production and its impact on consumption patterns) : UNESCO : ISBN:978-92-3-000066-0

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