Breadnut tree, also called ramon
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Breadnut tree, also called ramon

When it comes to trees that were important to the ancient Maya, we can easily name the ceiba as the sacred, the copal helped bring incense, and the cacao brought them chocolate. There is also the breadnut tree, also called ramon, which seems to grow abundantly near many Maya sites. It could be as a result of agroforestry, or the ancients simply avoided cutting the tree down to gain access to the fruit.

The fruit can be stored for many months without rotting, in cool underground chambers called chultuns. While this food may not have been a staple in the Maya diet it is very likely it served as emergency food during the times of famine. One adult breadnut tree can produce up to 800lb of food per year and will remain productive for more than 100 years.

Photograph by Institute of Archaeology

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