San Miguel de Allende
Guanajuato, México



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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

December, 2007 - Volume 2, No. 12

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.

parque landeta
photo by Bob Haas

Parque Landeta – a natural space

More and more users and visitors of El Charco are discovering this vast natural area of 35 hectares situated to the east of the Botanical Garden and near the end of the Presa Las Colonias. While belonging to the City, the management of this Ecological Preservation Zone was handed over to the Botanical Garden 15 years ago to be developed as an ecological and recreational park. People come to run, walk, let their dogs loose, observe birds, bicycle or simply enjoy its natural beauty. Parque Landeta has minimal infrastructure – designed, constructed and paid for by the botanical garden – fences, doors, gathering places, paths and signs. More than 2,000 trees and shrubs have been planted, which are regularly pruned and the native vegetation is cared for as well. Guards offer security to the users, especially on weekends. There is parking at the entrance or one may enter on foot either through the entrance or through the Botanical Garden. Entrance is free (parking is 20 pesos). Welcome to Parque Landeta, a natural area open to all!

parque landeta
photo by Ricardo Vidargas

The Reptiles of El Charco 

A priority for the botanical garden is to learn about the wild life in the conservation area and we are applying a part of our annual budget for scientific studies of the flora and fauna of the site, including Parque Landeta. In 2006 and 2007 experts put together a complete list of spontaneously generated plants, lichen, birds and butterflies (resident and migratory). We now have a new study on reptiles and amphibians recently presented by Raul Hernandez, well known biologist and herpetologist in the State of Guanajuato.  This study identifies 15 species of reptiles (5 lizards, 9 snakes and one turtle) and 2 amphibians (one frog, one toad) all of which were observed, identified and photographed by the researcher during the last semester of 2007. According to the Mexican Federal standards, 4 of these species are catalogued as endangered, and 5 more are subject to Special Protection. The report is available in the library at El Charco for anyone to consult.



Masticophis schoti 
(Camper & Dixon, 1994)
Common name in Spanish: Chirrionera Azul
in English : Striped Whipsnake
Status Nom 059:  Not at risk

all photos by Raul Hernández


Sceloporus spinosus (Wiegman, 1828)
Common name in Spanish: Lagartijo Espinoso
in Englishs: Spiny Lizard or Horny Toad
Status NOM 059: Endemic



Hyla arenicolor (Cope, 1866)
Common name in Spanish: Sapito de las Piedras
in English: Canyon Treefrog
Status NOM 059: out of risk

The Ducks Have Arrived

patos - ducks
photo by Rosario Otero

and not just ducks, but many other species of birds who each year travel thousands of kilometers from Canada and the United States to visit us during the winter months looking for food and warmer weather. We highly recommend a walk around the reservoir Las Colonias circling by Parque Landeta either early morning or around sunset. In this manner you can observe the new species and groups of water fowl finding refuge and sustenance around the artificial islands in the reservoir. Bring binoculars and don’t hurry. 

juice bar  

Juice Bar is Launched

Now after a nice walk around the Garden or Parque Landeta, you can enjoy a fresh juice, a yogurt shake, light snacks, an herbal tea or coffee, and more.

For now, the hours are from 8a.m. to 4p.m.  Another reason to visit the Garden.

Artistic Inspiration: Keith Miller

Besides being a natural monument, an ecological sanctuary, and a community center, El Charco has been an inspiration to talented artists for over half a century.  The landscape has given shape to a series of works of art from the watercolors of Leonard Brooks to the engravings of Aurora Estrada and the drawings of Pedro Friedeberg to more recent works such as this painting by Keith Miller.

charco painting

Photographers - Share Your Pics

In March we asked for volunteer photographers to share with us recent photos of the Botanical Garden and El Charco. 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.

lars Svanstrom
photo by Lars Svanstrom

El Suchil and the Cucharilla


The November garden lecture was very interesting and well attended. Three different types of “offerings” were made using the cucharilla plant: a “baston” (stick), a flower and a suchil.  We plan on repeating this demonstration in the new year.  For more photos of this event by Lars Svanstrom, you can go to www.mexidea.se/information.htm.





photos by Lars Svanstrom



Welcome Back, Martin!

We are delighted to announce that, after several months in his native England, Martin Smith, curator of the botanical collection, has returned to El Charco.  The plants missed him…and so did we!

photo by Rosario Otero

Ahimsa Ceremony for a Culture of Peace

A little more information about this ecumenical act which took place simultaneously in Ahmedadbad, India, Chapultepec Park in Mexico City and El Charco in San Miguel de Allende last October 2 (World Day of Non-Violence and birthday of Mahatma Gandhi):  http://www.oraworldmandala.org/today.htm

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. And please remember, we can always use the gift of your time. If you would like to learn more about opportunities for volunteering, please contact Naomi at nzerriffi@yahoo.com .

Sunday, December 23rd 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. 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.

Saturday, December 22nd at 10 a.m.
Sunday, December 23rd at 10 a.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


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