Some of the Central American rainforest's hidden treasures are being revealed by the Maya, more than a millennium after their passing.
The Maya clearly depicted the cebia tree (Ceiba pentandra) also known as the Silk Cotton or Kapok tree.
Trees of the Ceiba genus can grow up to 50m tall, with swollen trunks producing large buttresses.
To the Maya, the ceiba tree was sacred, mapping out the upper, middle and underworlds.
Considered the "first tree", or "world tree", the ceiba was thought to stand at the centre of the Earth. Modern indigenous people still often leave the tree alone out of respect when harvesting forest wood.
On cacao pots and a plate for holding tamales, made from dough, the Maya drew flowers of either P. ellipticum or P. aquatica. On the cacao pot, the flowers seem to form part of the headdress of a high ranging individual.
Smaller white-flowered blossoms of Quararibea funebris or Q. quatemalteca also appear to adorn another vessel used for cacao drinking. The Maya used this species to flavour and froth cacao beverages so it is appropriate for them to represent the plant on the vessel, says Zidar.
"It was previously thought that only the ceiba tree was of great importance," says Zidar.
"It has amazed me that so many plants are depicted. These plants are not as stylised as previously though, and thus you can name the plant family, genus and even the species."
Zidar is continuing the work, expanding it further to find out which animals as well as plants were considered of high importance by the Maya people. He also hopes the research will unveil secrets known to the Maya that have become lost in time.
"The Maya have lived and used rainforest plants to heal themselves for thousands of years. We are just beginning to understand some of their secrets."