Papaloquelite : Chaoacocopin

Chaoacocopin has been previously noted as one of the common names of Papaloquelite (Porophyllum macrocephalum) (1). I have come across this plant in an old text and would like to delve a little more deeply into this particular pore leaf (P.macrocephalum is most definitely my favourite pore leaf so far. I am however waiting to get the chance to grow some of the narrow leaved varieties so there is still room for me to have a different “favourite child”)

  1. See Post Pápaloquelite : Porophyllum macrocephalum

El Chaoacocopin, que unos llaman Papaloquilitl o verdura de mariposa, y otros Ahoyacaquilitl que lite apestoso, produce una raíz semejante al Rabano, por fuera amarilla y al interior blanca, la cual lleva hojas de Malva hortense, orbiculares y algo serradas: tallos de un palmo de largo, cilíndricos, lisos y en gran parte purpúreos, sosteniendo en sus últimos ramos las flores en forma de vasos oblongos, blancos y que se abren más tarde en vilanos. Es comestible y recuerda el sabor, aunque confuso, parecido al del Culantro. Tiene naturaleza algo cálida y seca en tercer grado y partes sutiles. Los indios la comen cruda, porque cocida pierde todo su sabor. Nace en los montes de Tepoztlán. De los tres nombres que lleva esta planta, el más conocido es el de Papaloquelite; así es vendido en el mercado: tiene un olor muy penetrante y pestilente, capaz de conocer su presencia á larga distancia y hacerse molesto y repugnante en una habitación. Como alimento lo toman con mucho agrado nuestros indios, crudo, para no hacerle perder el aceite volatil de que están impregnadas las flores y, sobre todo, sus hojas, que tienen numerosas glandulas. Por la descripción que trae Hernández, se viene en conocimiento que se refiere á una planta de la familia de las Compuestas; el color blanco que presenta el invólucro ele los capítulos ó cabezuelas (vasos oblongos de Hernández) corresponde al aspecto de escarcha que revisten generalmente estas cubiertas; las flores abriéndose en vilanos ó penachos; los tallos purpúreos, y sobre todo, el pestilente olor que despide toda la planta, viene á confirmar que se trata del género Porophyllum. El primer Papaloquelite que pude identificar fué el Porophyllum tagetoides, llamado también “Hierba del Venado,” probablemente á causa del mal olor que despide, semejante al de la orina de este animal. En las diez especies de este género conocidas hasta hoy, solo una tiene las hojas orbiculares, algo serradas, o mas bien, almenadas, como dice Hernandez, siendo el Porophyllum viridiflorum, DC conocido también con el nombre mexicano de Pipitza y la especie más usada como alimento.

The English translation is shown in one block at the bottom of this Post (just before the References)

My translatory effort begins

The Chaoacocopin, which some call Papaloquilitl or verdura de mariposa (literally butterfly vegetable), and others Ahoyacaquilitl or quelite apestoso (1)…….

  1.  stinky/stinking quelite : from apestoso 1. stinking and 2. annoying : which also leads to : apestar 1. to stink/reek 2. to stink up/stink out and 3. to infect with the plague (this will also come up a little later). Epazote is also called quelite apestoso. http://www.conabio.gob.mx/malezasdemexico/chenopodiaceae/chenopodium-graveolens/fichas/ficha.htm

……produces a root similar to the rábano (radish), yellow on the outside and white on the inside…….

The reference to a “root similar to the radish” (una raíz semejante al Rabano) brings to mind tepepapaloquilitl which “The Aztecs used the root of tepepapaloquilitl as a vegetable. The root of the chautl is also used as a vegetable and is a “bit like a potato”. (Carmichael 1995) (1)

  1. See Post : Tepepapaloquilitl for further information

…….which bears leaves of Malva hortense, orbicular and somewhat serrated: stems of a span long, cylindrical, smooth and largely purple, holding in its last branches the flowers in the form of oblong, white vessels that later open into pappus.

Malva hortense, sometimes called hollyhock.
In Latin the word ‘hortensia’ means ‘from the garden’.

The next line…. “Es comestible y recuerda el sabor, aunque confuso, parecido al del Culantro” literally translates (via Google translate – my Spanish is a work in progress) to “It is edible and recalls the flavour, although confusing, similar to that of the Culantro”.

Es comestible y recuerda (recuerdo = memory) el sabor, aunque (although/though/even if) confuso (confused), parecido (alike/similar/resemblance/bear resemblance to) al del Culantro.

So (in my brain) when I break it down it sort of translates to “It is edible and it evokes the flavour of culantro (1) to which it bears a strong resemblance”

  1. See Post Culantro : A Cilantro Mimic for further information on this herb

It has a somewhat warm and dry nature in the third degree and subtle parts (y partes sutiles). This is how the medicinal nature of plants (or any substance really) was understood using the current Humoral Theory of medicine at the time. Pre-Hispanic medicine had  similar theories involving the balancing of health as it equated in fact with the balance of the whole universe. The healing modality of curanderismo still uses this philosophy of the “temperate value” of things as part of its healing practices. (1)

  1. See Posts What is Curanderismo? and Quelites : Quilitl for further information on this philosophy
Porophyllum viridiflorum
Idlegrraphics – some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA)

The next line involves its culinary use…..

Los indios la comen cruda, porque cocida pierde todo su sabor”

……….I have shifted this line a little further down to keep the description condensed.

This plant was “born in the mountains” of Tepoztlan (Nace en los montes) [nacer = to be born]

Of the three names that this plant bears, the best known is Papaloquelite;

“of the three names”. I’m assuming the three names are….

  • Chaoacocopin
  • Papaloquilitl (verdure de mariposa) : quilitl = Nahuatl : quelite = Spanish
  • Ahoyaquilitl (quelite apestoso)
Porophyllum viridiflorum
Ignacio Torres García – some rights reserved (CC BY-NC)

This is how it is sold in the market: it has a very penetrating and pestilent odour (un olor muy penetrante y pestilente), capable of knowing its presence at a long distance and becoming annoying and repugnant in a room.

The Indians eat it raw, because when cooked it loses all its flavour.  As food our Indians take it with great pleasure, raw, so as not to make it lose the volatile oil with which the flowers are impregnated and, above all, their leaves, which have numerous glands.

Porophyllum viridiflorum
Ignacio Torres García – some rights reserved (CC BY-NC)

From the description provided by Hernández, it is known that it refers to a plant of the Compositae family; the white colour that presents the involvement of the heads or heads (oblong vessels of Hernández) corresponds to the appearance of frost that these covers generally have; the flowers opening in pappus or plumes; the purple stems (1), and above all, the pestilent odour (2) that the whole plant gives off, confirms that it is the genus Porophyllum.

  1. It was also noted that other quelites were classified, used and managed according to their colour. For instance, Porophyllum ruderale was classified as either “white” or “purple”. The white variety has light green stems and leaves and is the preferred variety (although both are appreciated). It is cultivated and available year round. The purple variety has leaves and stems with purple areas. This variety is “tolerated”, it is consumed less than the white variety and is available only during the dry season (Casa etal 2016). See Post : Quillquina : Porophyllum ruderale for further information.
  2. The descriptions of the scent of this herb have always made me giggle a little. I myself appreciate the odour but to most (who probably also hate cilantro) describe it as “disagreeable”. Here the term “pestilent” is used……see below…..
Porophyllum viridiflorum
Daniel Rios Gutierrez – some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA)

Lets break down pestilent…….

pestilent

  1. destructive to life; deadly. “pestilent diseases”
  2. causing annoyance; troublesome.
  3. harmful or dangerous to morals or public order; pernicious (having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way)

pestiferous

  1. carrying pestilence
  2. threatening or bringing danger or evil
  3. annoying, disagreeable

pestilence

  1. a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating especially : BUBONIC PLAGUE
  2. something that is destructive or pernicious (highly injurious or destructive : deadly. 2 archaic : wicked)

pestilential

  1. relating to or tending to cause infectious diseases. “pestilential fever”
  2. (of a plant or animal) very widespread and troublesome. “a pestilential weed”
  3. annoying.

OK then…..a little harsh perhaps but let’s continue……

The first Papaloquelite that I was able to identify was the Porophyllum tagetoides, also called “Hierba del Venado,” probably because of the bad odour it gives off, similar to that of the urine of this animal. (1)

  1. the deer reference comes up regularly for the Porophyllum species and nearly all of them are called “deer weed” in one place or another. P.tagetoides has also been called deerweed (yerba de la venado) “so called because the plant exhales a stench similar to that which gives off the meat of the deer” (sic) (Hieronymus. G). See Post Chepiche/Pipicha : Porophyllum tagetoides for more information.
Porophyllum viridiflorum
This one was cultivated in the Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca
(Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden)

The Ethnobotanical Garden showcases hundreds of species of plants, all of them native to Oaxaca. The plants come from different regions of the state, from both arid and humid climates, from the low-lying tropics, and from cool and temperate mountainous areas. The Garden thus represents the great diversity of climates, geological formations and types of vegetation that characterize Oaxaca. Research, education and conservation work is carried out on the flora of the state. They have a nursery, a seed bank, a herbarium and a specialized library where the public can consult information about the flora, vegetation, ecology, natural history and ethnobiology.

The Garden is part of the Santo Domingo Cultural Centre, which occupies the old Convent that was built in the 16th and 17th centuries for the Dominican friars. The land of the Garden was part of the old orchard of the convent. I consider myself lucky to have been able to visit this garden.

In the ten species of this genus known to date (1), only one has orbicular leaves, somewhat serrated, or rather, crenelated, as Hernandez says, being the Porophyllum viridiflorum (2), DC also known by the Mexican name of Pipitza (2) and (is) the species most used as food.

  1. 1904 (Urbina)
  2. P.viridiflorum has also been known as ….Kleinia viridiflora Kunth; Porophyllum holwayanum Greenm. and Porophyllum nutans B. L. Rob. & Greenm.
  3. Pipitza has several potential identifications (as do most Pororphyllums dammit) and has been potentially identified as P.obtusifolium and P.tagetoides. See Posts Pipitzcaquilitl : Porophyllum obtusifolium? and Chepiche/Pipicha : Porophyllum tagetoides for more information on these identifications. P.viridiflorum is also linked to the unknown porophyllum tlatlaolton. See Post Tlatlaolton. Which Porophyllum Are You? for further information. I do not think Pipitza is Chaoacocopin as pipitza is a narrow leaved variety whilst P.viridiflorum is most certainly a broad leaved variety.

Block Translation (courtesy Google Translate)

The Chaoacocopin, which some call Papaloquilitl or butterfly vegetable, and others Ahoyacaquilitl which smells stinky, produces a root similar to the Radish, yellow on the outside and white on the inside, which bears leaves of Malva hortense, orbicular and somewhat serrated: stems of a span long, cylindrical, smooth and largely purple, holding in its last branches the flowers in the form of oblong, white vessels that later open into pappus. It is edible and recalls the flavour, although confusing, similar to that of Culantro. It has a somewhat warm and dry nature in the third degree and subtle parts. The Indians eat it raw, because when cooked it loses all its flavour. It is born in the mountains of Tepoztlán. Of the three names that this plant bears, the best known is Papaloquelite; This is how it is sold in the market: it has a very penetrating and pestilent odour, capable of knowing its presence at a long distance and becoming annoying and repugnant in a room. Our Indians take it with great pleasure as food, raw, so as not to lose the volatile oil with which the flowers are impregnated and, above all, their leaves, which have numerous glands. From the description that Hernandez brings, it comes to light that it refers to a plant of the Compositae family; the white colour that presents the involvement of the heads or heads (oblong vessels of Hernández) corresponds to the appearance of frost that these covers generally have; the flowers opening in pappus or plumes; the purple stems, and above all, the pestilent odour that the whole plant gives off, confirms that it is the genus Porophyllum. The first Papaloquelite that I was able to identify was the Porophyllum tagetoides, also called “Herba del Venado,” probably because of the bad odour it gives off, similar to that of the urine of this animal. In the ten species of this genus known to date, only one has orbicular leaves, somewhat serrated, or rather, crenelated, as Hernandez says, being the Porophyllum viridiflorum, DC also known by the Mexican name of Pipitza and the species most used as food.

References

  • Carmichael, Elizabeth :   The Skeleton at the Feast. “The Day of the Dead in Mexico” :   1995 : ISBN-10: 0292776586
  • Casas, Alejandro & Vázquez, José & Lira, Rafael. (2016). Mexican Ethnobotany: Interactions of People and Plants in Mesoamerica. 10.1007/978-1-4614-6669-7_1.
  • Hieronymus, G. (Georg)  : Plantae diaphoricae florae Argentinae : 1882
  • Urbina, M. (1904). Plantas comestibles de los antiguos mexicanos. Por el Manuel Urbina. México, Impr. del Museo nacional.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s