Yepaquilitl : Another Skunk Weed

Acacia acatlensis

Cover photo : Young shoots of yepaquilitl : courtesy of Explora Jolalpan via Facebook.

Syn. Senegalia acatlensis ; Acacia pueblensis ; Mariosousa acatlensis

Also called borreguitos/ borrequitos, (also árbol del borrego), yepaquilitl (skunk Quelites) or yepaquihle, huizache, guayalote, guayote (Michoacan), quebrajache, guajillo (Puebla), chindata, chondata, chivos, tiñu, tlahuitole

Another plant known by the Nahuatl terminology yepaquilitl is A.acatlensis. It is known by the name “skunk” because of the “strong and peculiar” scent of its flowers

Flower, flower buds and seedpods of yepaquilitl

This plant is known to be eaten in the region of the Huasteca. La Huasteca is a geographical and cultural region located in Mexico along the Gulf of Mexico which includes parts of the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Puebla, Hidalgo, San Luis Potosí, Querétaro and Guanajuato. It is roughly defined as the area in which the Huastec people had influence when their civilization was at its height in the Mesoamerican period.

It is primarily the flower buds and young shoots that are eaten. Yepaquilitl is another example of a quelite that arrives with the first rains, at the end of May or the beginning of June and their availability lasts only 5 or 6 weeks. The shoots of the leaves and the flower buds of the yepaquilitl are highly appreciated in the region because its tender shoots appear just at the end of the dry season, a period of the annual cycle with less availability of food and when the stores of dried maize are almost exhausted (González and Hersch, 2005). Studies show that these shoots contain a percentage of protein comparatively higher than that of bean seeds —with 36.6% of crude protein versus 20.8% respectively (Hersch etal 1999)

(Hersch-Martínez 1999)

A comparison of the protein content of other quelites. Note the high protein content of the guajes (Leucaena leucocephala) and another wild quelite Anoda (1).

  1. Anoda cristata (known in Mexica as alache or violeta) is a member of the Mallow (Malva) species which has both culinary and medicinal uses (Rendón etal 2001). Anoda has been studied for its efficacy against the Helicobacter pylori bacterium responsible for gastric ulcers (Gomez-Chang 2018). This plant is considered an introduced weed in Australia and can been found in many agricultural regions of Australia

According to traditional recipes the flower buds should be harvested before they sprout. Small branches are cut down and the flower buds are individually removed from the blossoms. They can be prepared in several ways. A recipe from Jolalpan in Puebla is for a type of tamale (somewhat similar to a tlapique)(See Post Xochimilco and the Axolotl). The flower buds are chopped (or crumbled by hand) and then ground and mixed into a compact mass with the addition of a little tequesquite (1) and salt. The mixture is rubbed on a wooden tray until a foam is produced and then the mixture is wrapped tightly in totomoxtle (2) and cooked on the comal, turning regularly, until the totomoxtle is nicely charred.

  1. Tequesquite or tequexquite (from Nahuatl tequixquitl) is a natural mineral salt containing compounds of sodium chlorate, sodium carbonate, and sodium sulphate, used in Mexico since pre-Hispanic times mainly as a food seasoning. It is found naturally in central Mexico particularly in previously lacustrine environments where the mineral salt forms a sedimentary crust
  2. corn husk, generally dried, although in some recipes (not this one) fresh corn husks are used.
Tlapiques from Xochimilco. These contain fish as well as other herbs/vegetables so they are a little different but they are cooked in the same manner. Note the charred totomoxtle.

In Copalillo, Guerrero, the buds of Acacia acatlensis are boiled with salt and cooked as a broth, which needs to be continuously stirred whilst cooking. When the boiling water turns yellowish this indicates that the buds are ready to eat.

Another recipe calls for the borreguitos to be used as a green vegetable and cooked in a small pancake/pikelet (tortita) in a manner similar to that of romeritos (See Post Romeritos)

Tortitas de Yepaquilitl con Huatape Huasteca Alta (Yepaquilitl pancakes with huatape* Huasteca Alta)
*huatape (or guatape) is a broth that has been thickened with masa.

Ingredients: Serves 4

  • 4 cups of yepaquilitl, without stem, peduncle, or pistil
  • 4 eggs
  • vegetable oil or lard for frying
  • 4 colored chili peppers, roasted (see notes)
  • 10 Santa María chiles, roasted (see notes)
  • 1 clove garlic, roasted
  • 2 cups of water
  • 50 grams of masa
  • 1 sprig of epazote
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • salt to taste


  1. Place the flowers in a pot, cover them with water, add salt and gently boil until soft. Drain.
  2. Blend the chilies, garlic and water, until smooth, reserve.
  3. To make the huatape. In a saucepan, heat the butter and pour the chile mix, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes over low heat, adding water if necessary, add the thinned masa and epazote, stir constantly and add salt if necessary. When it thickens slightly, remove from heat.
  4. In a bowl mix the flowers and eggs, add salt to taste and form pancakes (tortitas) two inches in diameter.
  5. In a frying pan, heat a little oil and fry the tortitas on both sides until light golden brown, drain to remove excess fat.
  6. Serve the tortitas in bowls of the huatape and complement with frijoles de olla and freshly made tortillas.

I have no idea what these chiles are. There are 2 main varieties of this dish, a green and a red(ish). Green versions tend to be made with a base of tomate verde (tomatillos) and poblano chiles while the darker versions may contain ancho, guajillo or pasilla chiles

  • Gomez-Chang, E., Uribe-Estanislao, G. V., Martinez-Martinez, M., Gálvez-Mariscal, A., & Romero, I. (2018). Anti-Helicobacter pylori Potential of Three Edible Plants Known as Quelites in Mexico. Journal of Medicinal Food. doi:10.1089/jmf.2017.0137 
  • Hersch-Martínez, P., & Andrés Fierro-Alvarez. (1999). Acacia acatlensis: An Alimentary Resource in Southwest Puebla and North of Guerrero, Mexico. Economic Botany, 53(4), 448-450. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from
  • Hersch-Martínez, Paul & González-Chévez, Lilián & Fierro, Andres. (2004). Endogenous knowledge and practice regarding the environment in a Nahua community in Mexico. Agriculture and Human Values. 21. 127-137. 10.1023/B:AHUM.0000029404.34942.d1.
  • Rendón, B., R. Bye, and J. Núñez-Farfán. (2001). Ethnobotany of Anoda cristata (L.) Schl. (Malvaceae) in central Mexico: Uses, management and population differentiation in the community of Santiago Mamalhuazuca, Ozumba, state of Mexico. Economic Botany 55:4 545-54
  • Jerzy Rzedowsky, Fernando Chiang, Lourdes Rico, Raquel Galván, Maria de Lourdes Rico Arce & Rosa Maria Fonseca : (2005) FLORA DE GUERRERO : N° 25. ACACIEAE (MIMOSACEAE) : Facultad de Ciencias, UNAM : ISBN de la obra completa: 968-36-0765-9


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