Native Mexican flowers offer a fantastic variety of botanical gems. These plants inhabit a wide range of landscapes, from coastal habitats to rainforests and humid highland areas. What’s more, Mexico’s native flowers and plants, like gladiolus or Mexican marigolds, are also important Day of the Dead flowers. This comprehensive guide will cover 30 of the most impressive native Mexican flowers.
30 Amazing Types of Mexican Flowers:
1. Mexican marigold (Tagetes erecta)
Mexican marigolds (Tagetes erecta) are beautiful members of the aster or sunflower family. These flowers have long held a special place in Mexican culture as the Aztecs used them in important ceremonies. Mexican marigolds are also one of the primary flowers used during the Day of the Dead as a symbol of grief.
Mexican marigolds produce pom-pom-like yellow to red flowers. These herbaceous plants grow across Central and South America and are indigenous to tropical forests. In addition to its ritual uses, Mexican marigold also has medicinal properties.
2. Laelia orchid (Laelia spp.)
The Laelia orchid genus is a group of 25 types of orchids that grow across Central and South America. Most Laelia orchids grow in Mexico. These stunning flowers range from purple to white and can be found in most climates across Mexico.
Some of Mexico’s most common Laelia orchids include Laelia rubescens and Laelia albida. Many of these Mexican orchids are epiphytes, meaning they grow on rocks or other plants. Most Laelia orchids symbolize beauty and love, making them excellent as cut flower displays.
3. Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica)
The Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica) is native to the Mexican state of Baja California. This evergreen shrub produces vibrant red flowers and fern-like foliage, creating the appearance of a fairy duster. Despite its delicate appearance, the Baja fairy duster is very hardy and can tolerate drought and high heat.
Baja fairy duster is a valuable and beautiful ornamental woody shrub for the backyard. It has tremendous value for wildlife because it attracts pollinators like bees and hummingbirds. The flowers usually bloom during the early summer.
4. Mexican prickly poppy (Argemone mexicana)
Although native to Mexico, the Mexican prickly poppy (Argemone mexicana) has colonized many other regions worldwide. These hardy flowers have spiky thistle-like foliage with bright yellow flowers during spring and summer. It’s been able to spread into other countries because it’s toxic to livestock, so it rarely gets eaten.
Despite its toxicity, the Mexican prickly poppy was used in the traditional medicine of several Mexican cultures. In the Sonora Desert, the Seri people used the Mexican prickly poppy to remedy post-natal kidney pain.
5. Belize sage (Salvia miniata)
Belize sage (Salvia miniata) is an attractive member of the sage family that belongs to the Salvia genus. In Mexico, the Belize sage grows in the state of Chiapas on shaded mountain slopes. It also grows in neighboring Belize.
Belize sage is a herbaceous perennial that produces woody growth. The characteristic claw-shaped Salvia flowers are bright red with hints of orange. These blooms emerge during the summer. Belize sage is also known as smooth-leaf sage, thanks to its glossy green foliage.
6. Silken pincushion cactus (Mammillaria bombycina)
The silken pincushion cactus (Mammillaria bombycina) is a flowering cactus found in Mexico’s central-western regions. It’s mainly spotted in the states of Aguascalientes and Jalisco. During the spring and summer, the silken pincushion cactus produces rich, pink flowers with yellowish centers.
The silken pincushion cactus is round and bulbous, with fine white hairs and brown and white spines of varying lengths. The flowers are important for pollinators in arid regions. This cactus species is also very easy to cultivate under glass in temperate regions.
The silken pincushion cactus has also achieved the RHS’s Award of Garden Merit.
7. Mexican zinnia (Zinnia haageana)
Also known as Haage’s zinnia, the Mexican zinnia (Zinnia haageana) is a bright annual flower indigenous to Mexico. The Mexican zinnia has also been naturalized across Central and South America, the US, and the West Indies.
Mexican Zinnia flowers come in a range of bright colors, notable orange, red, or yellow. These blooms last from summer into the fall. Mexican zinnias struggle in cold temperatures and thrive in full sun. There are numerous types of zinnia flowers, including ‘Aztec Orange,’ which possesses an RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Bromeliads are a large and diverse group of plants known as Bromeliaceae. Most bromeliads grow in tropical climates and thrive in warm, humid environments. There are approximately 326 species of bromeliads native to Mexico.
Mexico’s range of bromeliads includes several Tillandsia species, also known as air plants. Many species of bromeliads have glossy, almost succulent-like foliage and produce bright flowers. Tropical bromeliads are commonly cultivated as houseplants for their beautiful foliage and surprising benefits.
9. Chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus)
Chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus) are beautiful aster family members (Asteraceae). Mexico is believed to be the native stronghold of the chocolate cosmos. These richly colored flowers grow in mixed oak and pine forests at higher elevations.
Chocolate cosmos produce intoxicating flowers of dark red to reddish-brown from mid to late summer. These flowers generate a chocolate or vanilla scent that intensifies during the evening. Chocolate cosmos is a herbaceous perennial that symbolizes beauty and order.
10. Yucca flower (Yucca baccata)
Also known as the banana yucca, the yucca flower (Yucca baccata) is one of approximately 50 species in the Yucca genus. These succulents belong to the asparagus family and are famous for their sword-shaped evergreen foliage.
Banana yucca grows in Mexico’s northwestern deserts as well as areas of the American southwest. Yucca flowers are usually cream or white, although banana yucca flowers also have a hint of purple. Yucca flowers are thought to symbolize purification and protection. These blooms emerge during the spring and summer.
11. Lyreleaf greeneyes (Berlandiera lyrata)
Lyreleaf greeneyes (Berlandiera lyrata) is commonly known as the chocolate flower. These flowering perennials are members of the aster family (Asteraceae) native to several states in Mexico and the US. Lyreleaf greeneyes were used in traditional Native American medicine to treat stomach problems.
Lyreleaf greeneyes get their name from their lyre-shaped leaves. The flowers are a vibrant, bright yellow with brown streaks on the underside of the petals. These sunny flowers bloom all year round if there’s no risk of frost and produce a scent similar to cocoa. In colder climates, lyreleaf greeneyes bloom from spring to fall.
12. Mexican Lady’s slipper (Cypripedium spp.)
One of Mexico’s most beautiful orchids is the Mexican Lady’s slipper. These flowers are members of the Cypripedium genus of the orchid family containing nearly 60 plants. Three species in the Irapeanum subgenus are known to be native to Mexico.
Lady’s slipper orchids have four petals, with the bottom one forming a distinctive pouch that looks like a slipper. The three Mexican species (Cypripedium dickinsonianum, Cypripedium irapeanum, and Cypripedium molle) all have pale to bright yellow flowers.
13. Dahlias (Dahlia spp.)
Although a common flower in gardens worldwide, dahlias originated from Mexico. In fact, the dahlia is recognized as the official national flower of Mexico. The Aztecs grew dahlias for food due to the starchy tubers produced by these perennials.
Dahlias belong to the aster family (Asteraceae) and are beloved for their distinctive flowers. These colorful blooms look a bit like pom-poms and come in almost any color. Dahlias symbolize creativity, dignity, and elegance and are also pretty easy to grow in a range of climates. In addition, dahlias can bloom from spring until fall, depending on the exact variety.
14. Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata)
Larrea tridentata is an evergreen shrub that thrives in the deserts of Mexico and the Southwestern US. This plant is also known as the creosote bush due to its potent odor. Larrea tridentata produces star-shaped yellow flowers that bloom during the spring. These shrubs were used in traditional Native American medicine.
Larrea tridentata has an interesting growth habit. As it gets older, the original plant dies off and is replaced by new crowns that are clones of the original plant. Creosote bushes can live for centuries, with the oldest specimen known to be over 11,000 years old!
15. Fallugia (Fallugia paradoxa)
Sometimes called the Apache plume, fallugia is a deciduous or evergreen shrub native to northern areas of Mexico. This perennial shrub thrives in arid conditions, producing open white flowers with five petals and yellow centers. Along with the flowers, fallugia also produces feathery plumes that form fruit heads.
These plumes are the reason for the nickname ‘Apache plume’ because they look similar to a traditional Apache headdress. Fallugia shrubs can grow between six and 12 feet high. The flowers emerge in spring, although a second flowering can sometimes occur during the fall.
16. Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera)
Famed for its spicy scent, Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) is an evergreen shrub native to Mexico. It also grows in countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Mexican honeysuckle produces orange tubular flowers ideal for hummingbirds.
In warmer climates, the flowers can bloom all year round. In regions prone to frost, Mexican honeysuckle blooms from summer until the fall. These gorgeous flowers represent happiness.
Mexican honeysuckle leaves can be boiled to make a medicinal tea. While the leaves are being boiled, they produce vibrant colors like pink or purple. Mexican honeysuckle also contains essential oils in the flowers and foliage.
17. Gladioli (Gladiolus spp.)
Gladioli (Gladiolus spp.) are members of the Iris family (Iridaceae), often known as the sword lily, thanks to their blade-like foliage. Gladioli produce spires of scented flowers in many colors such as pink, purple, red, white, or yellow. These flowers bloom from the middle of summer until the first fall frosts.
Gladioli are not native to Mexico, hailing from parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. Despite this, gladioli are important flowers during the Day of the Dead celebrations. Gladioli symbolize remembrance as well as faithfulness and honor.
18. Anthurium (Anthurium spp.)
One of the largest groups of the Arum family, anthuriums are frequently grown as tropical houseplants across the world. Also known as the flamingo flower or laceleaf, these flowering epiphytes are native to Mexico.
Anthuriums are known for their bright spathes, which are specialized leaves designed to attract insects. They also have a spike of small flowers known as a spadix. Anthuriums symbolize abundance, happiness, and hospitality and can also provide some attractive benefits as houseplants.
When given the right conditions as houseplants, anthuriums can bloom throughout the year. This tends to occur in three-month cycles.
19. Coral vine (Antigonon leptopus)
Coral vines (Antigonon leptopus) are native Mexican perennials that belong to the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae). Coral vines produce heart-shaped foliage and flowers ranging from pink to white. These flowers emerge from spring until fall.
Coral vines can exceed seven meters long and produce seeds that can float, allowing them to spread easily. Aboriginal people in Mexico’s Baja California region used coral vine seeds as food. The seeds were prepared similarly to popcorn using a basket and hot coals.
Due to their fast-growing habit, coral vines are classed as an invasive species in Florida.
20. Mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia)
Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia diversifolia) are also known as tree marigolds and form annual or perennial woody shrubs. These plants produce vibrant yellow or orange flowers that resemble large daisies. They are prolific growers, and each shrub can produce up to 120 individual flowers.
Mexican sunflowers are native to Mexico but quickly spread to other parts of Central and South America. The flowers can bloom all year round if conditions are right but are at their best from late summer to fall. These stunning blooms symbolize adoration, faith, and loyalty.
Mexican sunflowers are good for pollinators and even increase nutrients in the soil.
21. Blue Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida)
Like other palo verde plants, the blue palo verde (Parkinsonia florida) belongs to the pea family (Fabaceae). These shrubs or small trees can reach up to 12 meters tall. Blue palo verde plants have bright yellow edible flowers that are popular with pollinators. These plants bloom in late spring each year.
Blue palo verde plants are native to the desert of the northwest Sonora region in Mexico. The beans of these shrubs were a vital food source for indigenous people living in the area. The beans were usually cooked or ground into flour.
22. Mexican frangipani (Plumeria rubra)
Mexican frangipani (Plumeria rubra) is the most common of the frangipani genus native to Mexico. It is native to most regions of Mexico and has also spread into Colombia and Venezuela. These deciduous perennial shrubs thrive in rocky, arid areas.
Mexican frangipani produces masses of pink, yellow, or white flowers with yellow centers from summer until fall. These blooms have thick, intoxicating scents of cinnamon, citrus fruits, and rose. During winter, Mexican frangipani often drops its foliage.
Although Mexican frangipani is classed as poisonous, it can have medicinal benefits. The flowers are also used to produce perfumes.
23. Mexican passion flower (Passiflora mexicana)
One of the most striking native flowers of Mexico is the Mexican passion flower (Passiflora mexicana). This incredible perennial vine is part of the passion flower genus (Passiflora), which contains approximately 550 species. Mexican passion flower inhabits semi-arid woodlands across Mexico.
Mexican passion flower blooms are intricate, with a radius of thread-like petals and fruit-bearing parts. These unique flowers come in colors from purple to yellow and bloom from mid to late summer. Mexican passion flower is prized for its thick, heavy scent.
These flowers are thought to symbolize the death of Christ, giving them a religious significance.
24. California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is a gorgeous, vibrant wildflower native to northern Mexico and the western United States. These drought-tolerant flowers can be annuals or perennials, depending on the climate. California poppies can be grown fairly easily across the Northern Hemisphere.
California poppies have bright cup-shaped blooms ranging from orange, red, and yellow. Depending on the climate, these flowers bloom from spring through summer until fall. The flowers close at night before opening to catch the morning sun.
California poppies’ round, lobed foliage is edible, while the flowers are often used as a garnish for salads.
25. Mexican hat flower (Ratibida columnifera)
Mexican hat flowers (Ratibida columnifera) are distinctive Aster family members (Asteraceae) and are also called upright prairie coneflowers. These whimsical flowers look similar to a sombrero, with a central cone surrounded by drooping red petals with yellow margins. Mexican hat flowers bloom from summer until fall, swaying on tall stalks.
Mexican hat flowers are hardy perennial wildflowers native to northern Mexico and the United States prairies. They can spread easily because they self-seed and are brilliant plants for pollinating birds and insects. Mexican hat flowers are also great ornamental plants for the backyard.
26. Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)
Mexican bird of paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is a pretty pea family member (Fabaceae). These evergreen shrubs are indigenous to southeast Mexico and other tropical areas of Central and South America. The Mexican bird of paradise is also called the peacock flower.
Mexican bird of paradise produces elegant flowers ranging in color from red to orange and yellow. These shrubs can grow extremely quickly and are listed as an invasive species in some areas. They can reach up to three or four meters tall.
Many native cultures used the Mexican bird of paradise as a food source and medicinal plant.
27. Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are one of the world’s most recognizable Christmas flowers. However, these perennial plants are native to Mexico and other areas of Central America like Guatemala. Poinsettias are popular due to their bright red and green foliage.
The red parts of the poinsettia are bracts, unique leaves designed to lure in insects to collect pollen. Although used as a Christmas plant in modern times, the Aztecs grew poinsettias as medicinal plants. Now grown as houseplants in many areas, wild poinsettias grow as shrubs or small trees that can reach up to four meters high.
28. Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans)
Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is a perennial plant in the Salvia genus of the sage family (Lamiaceae). It’s named for its pineapple scent, which actually comes from the foliage rather than the flowers. Pineapple sage can be found in the pine-oak forests of Mexico.
Pineapple sage produces red tubular flowers that bloom during late fall. These pretty flowers are attractive to pollinators, especially butterflies and hummingbirds. In warmer areas, the flowers can last right through until spring.
In addition to their pineapple scent, the foliage of pineapple sage is edible. These plants are also used in traditional Mexican medicine.
29. Gentian sage (Salvia patens)
Another member of the Salvia genus native to Mexico is the gentian sage (Salvia patens). These herbaceous perennials belong to the sage family and are found across central Mexico. In colder climates, gentian sage acts like an annual, especially when frosts hit.
Gentian sage has striking deep blue flowers that emerge during mid-summer and last into the fall. These flowers have the distinctive claw-like shape of the Salvia genus. Gentian sage is ideal for attracting pollinators to a backyard, especially butterflies.
30. Mexican morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor)
Mexican morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor) is a stunning trailing vine from the Convolvulaceae family. These herbaceous plants can be annuals or perennials, depending on the exact conditions. These vines will die off in colder temperatures and prefer warm, tropical conditions.
Mexican Morning Glory produces lovely trumpet-shaped blue flowers with white and yellow centers. These trailing plants can grow up to four meters tall and are excellent for growing up pergolas or trellis. Mexican morning glory is believed to symbolize unfulfilled or unrequited love.
Mexican Flowers FAQs:
Which flower is the National Flower of Mexico?
Mexico’s National Flower is the beautiful dahlia. These pom-pom-shaped perennial flowers were chosen in 1963 as the national flower.
What is a Mexican rose?
Echeveria elegans is a succulent that’s known as the Mexican rose. These evergreen perennials belong to the Crassulaceae family and form a fleshy rosette of blue-green leaves. They can produce long stalks of pink flowers.
What flowers did the Aztecs grow?
The Aztecs grew a range of flowers for food and medicinal and ornamental uses. Aztec ornamental flower gardens featured dahlias and marigolds. Vanilla flowers were also popular, while flowers like poinsettias and dahlias were also grown for food.
What is the most popular flower in Mexico?
Dahlias are the most popular flowers in Mexico. These stunning native perennials come in almost any color (except blue) and are easy to grow. The dahlia was chosen as Mexico’s official National Flower in 1963.
Are dahlias from Mexico?
Although dahlias are grown as ornamental flowers around the world, these perennials were originally native to Mexico. Dahlias were not cultivated in Europe until 1789.
Mexican Native Flowers – The Final Word
Mexico is home to a dazzling array of beautiful, vibrant, and enjoyable native flowers. Mexican flowers like dahlias and gladiolus are now popular in gardens worldwide. Native flowers like the Mexican marigold are also significant for Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations.
Mexico has a long tradition of cultivating flowers for food, medicine, and pleasure. The Aztecs were incredibly accomplished botanists, and their influence has shaped Mexican horticulture for generations.