San Miguel de Allende
Guanajuato, México



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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

November, 2007 - Volume 2, No. 11

OUR MISSION: To protect and preserve our natural heritage while developing a Botanical Garden dedicated to Mexican flora and providing an oasis of peace and tranquility. Please tell your friends and prospective members/supporters how to access the newsletter and help broaden the base of support for the Botanical Garden.

Day of the Dead at El Charco
Starting Thursday afternoon, November 1st, and throughout Friday, November 2nd,  you will be able to visit a traditional altar prepared by Hermes Arroyo and the staff of El Charco. This year the altar is dedicated to the natural areas of San Miguel de Allende. Yes, that’s correct…the natural areas. Read on...

map of protected zone

City Council approves a management plan for the ecological zone of El Charco
…but without an enforcement ordinance!  

This past October 9th, the City Council approved a management plan for the ecological preservation zone of El Charco and adjacent areas, which consists of 380 hectares, including the nuclear zone (basically, the Botanical Garden and Parque Landeta) and the buffer zone surrounding this nuclear area. The management plan, prepared by biologists from the University of Querétaro, was submitted for public consultation by the municipality. The Botanical Garden proposed an ordinance to help enforce this plan and to regulate housing projects around the reserve, which was accepted in principle by the local authorities.  Nevertheless, the pressure of the developers was such that authorities backed off and the ordinance was thrown out. Now we have a management plan in force for the ecological zone…but without an ordinance to enable its enforcement. This is how things stand now …

The Butterflies of El Charco 

Thanks to the joint efforts of Wayne and Susan Colony, naturalists and contributors to the botanical garden, and the North American specialist, Kim Garwood (co-author of a book entitled “Butterflies of Northeastern Mexico” pubished in 2005 by CONABIO and the State of Nuevo Leon), there is a preliminary inventory of the butterflies of El Charco and Parque Landeta. This list registers 109 species – 105 of which have been photographed by Wayne Colony. Another interesting piece of information: the total number of species registered for the State of Guanajuato is 134.  105 of these live in El Charco.  Is it still possible to ignore the important biodiversity of this conservation area?  We have included photos of 3 species (Cholsyne ehrenberg, Zerene cesonia and Heliconius charithonia).



mariposa1photo by Wayne Colony
Striped Patch
(Chlosyne ehrenbergi)

photo by Wayne Colony
Southern Dogface (Zerene cesonia)


photo by Wayne Colony
Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia)

Garden Lecture Series: El Súchil y la Cucharilla, November 24th, 10:00a.m.

In the Plaza of 4 Winds, next to the stone cross, there is a vertical structure adorned with plants. It is known in San Miguel as suchil and is the principal offering in local religious festivals year round.  The structure is woven with small shiny, ivory-colored plant extracted from the stalk of the cucharilla (Dasylirion Acotriche), a native plant similar to an agave.  The suchil is put together by a group of people working together all night so that it may be mounted the following day during the ceremony.  It is a pame otomi tradition that goes back to the time of the Conquest in the 16th century. According to several historical studies, the suchil represents the stretcher or cot, covered in flowers, on which they transported the indigenous warriors killed in combat.  There will be a demonstration by local indigenous people of how these structures are assembled.  70 pesos for members; 100 pesos for non-members. Reserve at nzerriffi@yahoo.com   suchil
photo by Rennie Ashleman

Amazing Architecture: spiders


November is the best month to observe and admire the dexterous work of the most incredible architects in the world: spiders.  A variety of webs can be seen on the sides of the trails amongst the bushes and cacti – deadly traps for other insects.  When the light shines on them, you can see the most amazing and delicate designs, similar to mandalas, which early in the morning will have drops of dew. The makers of these works of art are no less surprising with their different shapes and colors matched only by those of the grasshoppers which are also common in the Fall.  Keep your eyes open and cameras ready.

Ahimsa Ceremony for a Culture of Peace

This past October 2nd , International Day of Non-Violence and anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, there was an ecumenical ceremony in El Charco to promote a culture of peace. Led by Alicia Mayo, the ceremony took place in front of the commemorative plaque placed there in 2004 when the Dalai Lama declared El Charco a Peace Zone (one of 5 in Mexico).  The traditional Tibetan flags were replaced with new ones and prayers offered for peace in the world.  While this happened at 8a.m. in San Miguel, a parallel ceremony was taking place in the afternoon in Ahmedabab, India in the Sabarmati Ashram where Gandhi started his Ahimsa movement of non-violence which eventually led to the independence of his country. People from 13 different religious communities were brought together, in a region of India torn by inter-religious conflicts. The director of the Botanical Garden, Cesar Arias, was invited to bring a handful of earth from El Charco to be mixed with the earth from India (see photo to the right) in an emotional ceremony.


tibetan flags
photo by Benjie

tierra de mexico y de la india

This global initiative for peace, based on the conciliation of opposites, was started in 2005 by the organization Ora World Mandala and by the Center for Peace Studies in Gujarat Vidyapith (university started by Gandhi).


above: Bhajan (devotional chants) y dances to Quetzalcoatl

A Gift Idea
As we approach the end of the year and holiday season, why not consider giving a membership to the botanical garden to family or friends as a gift that can be used all year – and, at the same time, supports the conservation efforts of El Charco.  Membership forms can be obtained at Border Crossings (Reloj and Mesones) and at the reception area of the garden.

Saturday, November 24th at sunset

luna llena


We invite everyone to this open celebration that has been taking place for many years during the full moon cycle at the Four Winds Plaza in the Botanical Garden. This month it will take place on November 24.
It’s worth arriving a little early to admire the setting of the sun and the appearance of the moon over the mountains. We recommend bringing a coat and a musical instrument if you wish.
Admission is 30 pesos, free for members

Friday, November 23th at 8p.m.
Sunday, November 25th at 10a.m.

This relaxing steam bath is a ritual of healing and purification and is available every month for both men and women. Bring bathing suits and towels. It takes place in the ruins of an old hacienda, under the moonlight, across the dam from El Charco’s reception area. The mixture of heat, humidity and scented plants and herbs is a purifying experience for mind and spirit. Its benefits are many: it activates blood circulation, increases natural body defenses, eliminates odors, relaxes muscles, helps keep the nervous system in good shape, stimulates breathing and is excellent for weight loss. 250 pesos, space is limited so please call for reservations or information 154 88 38, 154 4715, cell 01 443 10 3 3019 or in El Charco’s main office.


temazcal exterior

temazcal interior

An Appeal
If anyone has a used LCD project to donate or sell, please contact nzerriffi@yahoo.com.  We are doing many presentations at the library at the botanical garden and need our own equipment.

Photographers - Share Your Pics
In March we asked for volunteer photographers to share with us recent photos of the botanical garden and El Charco. Two members have done just that and we are very grateful to them.  This request for any wonderful photos you may have of El Charco is ongoing and we would be most appreciative if you would contact us at any time: nzerriffi@yahoo.com.

photo by Doug Hunt

flowers and water
photo by Jennifer Haas

Inventory of Spontaneous Flora in El Charco del Ingenio, by Walter L. Meagher, published in Spanish, edited by el Instituto de Ecología AC, de Pátzcuaro Michoacán,  as part of a series entitled “Flora del Bajío y Regiones Adyacente” (Flora of the Bajio and Adjacent Regions). 50 pesos.
Flores Silvestres de San Miguel de Allende, by Richard Cretcher.  Bilingual pocket guide with photos by the author for identifying local wildflowers. 150 pesos.
20 Trees of El Charco del Ingenio:  bilingual with photos, published by the Botanical Garden. 60 pesos.
20 Succulents of El Charco del Ingenio:  bilingual with photos, published by the Botanical Garden. 60 pesos.


Sign-in Book:  In March we initiated this request to members to sign in at Reception with your name, date and number of people in your group.  This information, as well as the guest sign-in book, helps us improve our services to our members and visitors. Thank you for your cooperation.

Membership Renewal:  When renewing your membership at Border Crossings or at the Reception area, please ask for a renewal form. This helps us maintain current lists with proper email addresses, etc.  We want to remind you of the new option of having a membership for more than one year.

User Survey:  This brief and simple form is available at Reception in both English and Spanish and we ask our visitors and members to fill one out please. We are interested in knowing who, when and why people visit El Charco so we can offer better services, improve our programs, etc.   This is also an opportunity to give us your comments and suggestions.

You can make a difference

And you can make a difference with your donations. We appreciate your support!! Please contact Naomi at nzerriffi@yahoo.com

E-mail any comments or questions to the Editor at charcodelingenio@gmail.com