Included in this ethnobotanical study is a profusion of ethnological, sociological, historical, cultural, political, economic, and geographical information concerned with the Huastec people of eastern Mexico. The Huastec, or “Teenek,” the designation by which the Huastec refer to themselves, are a cultural island of Maya-speaking people who have lived since preconquest times in areas contained within the modern Mexican states of Hidalgo, Veracruz, and San Luis Potosí. For the most part, the Teenek exist today outside the mainstream of Mexican mestizo culture.

Because of their isolation, the Teenek are commonly known to the outside world from the Aztec biases expressed in ethnohistorical documents of the early colonial period and the Nahuatl name of “Huastec.” Isolation, although extremely detrimental to the Teenek in many ways, afforded in great measure the preservation of a rich cultural ethos that the author, Janis B, Alcorn, has explored with sensitivity and in great depth as well as detail in this publication.

The objectives of this study and the methodology of the author’s fieldwork among the Teenek communities in the states of San Luis Potosí and Veracruz are found in chapter one. The natural and social environment, economics, and world view of the Teenek follow in chapters two and three. These first three chapters, in effect, set the stage for a well-conceived and well-executed examination, in chapters four and five, of the use and management of native, imported, and domesticated plant species important to and existing within the ecology of the Teenek, or Huastec, world.

A noteworthy part of this study is an extensive and well-formulated ethnobotanical atlas of the Teenek world found in the appendix. This atlas lists botanical materials alphabetically and keys each entry according to life form, geographic distribution, anthropogenic restrictions, pertinent survey and interview data, and standard and alternate Teenek names, in addition to Teenek uses and derivative preparations of the individual plants. The ethnobotanical atlas is followed by a systematic listing of plants and a standard Teenek name key for the plants examined in this study. The extensive breadth, as well as depth and detail in scholarly execution, make this publication a valuable resource for ethnobotany as well as for research and studies of the Teenek in other disciplines.