August and September mark “colliflower” season in Guadalajara. Yes, it’s time to head for Colli Volcano, which is part of the Primavera Forest.
Amazingly, you can get onto a trail up the mountainside without leaving town. Just head for Calle San Ignacio, a little street conveniently located just 800 meters from the city’s western beltway (periférico), not far from the Omnilife Stadium.
I was introduced to this trail by U.S. Peace Corps volunteer Barbara Dye who claimed it was her favorite place to hunt for wildflowers. Considering that, I recently decided to invite two botanists from the University of Guadalajara, Miguel Muñiz and Viacheslav Shalisko, to check out the trail and help me ID some of its flowers and trees. I brought along a few hiker friends as well, which turned out to be a less than brilliant idea, as I soon found out.
You see, when you are on a path in the woods with a botanist, the word “hiking” does not describe the experience. “Inching your way along the trail” would be more exact. On Cerro Colli, of course, the cause of this problem is the great variety of interesting plants you can come across with every step you take.
Right off, we came upon begonias and morning glories and the first of many Scarlet-Flowered Dahlias (Dahlia coccinia) which, of course, is the Mexican National Flower, whose bulb is edible, tasting something like a potato.
Curiously, here we also came upon the heart-shaped leaves of the camote de cerro (Dioscorea remotiflora) whose root is, in my opinion, even more delicious than the potato – and highly nutritious as well.