||How did Manzanillo get its name?
had many names over the last 500 years. The Nahuatl Indians, one of the oldest surviving
tribes, whose language is still being spoken and taught today, called it Cozcatlan
in the 1400s. Cozcatlan means "Place of Pearls." Another tribe called
it Tlacotla, while Caxitlan became its name in the early
In 1527, navigator Alvaro de Saavedra named it Puerto
de Santiago de la Buena Esperanza, which means "Santiago's Bay of Good
Hope." It became Puerto de Salagua in 1615, and finally emerged as Puerto
de las Manzanillas in 1752.
During that time, there were abundant manzanillo
trees used extensively for shipbuilding. These manzanillo trees have poisonous yellow-red
fruit resembling a small apple, but their wood is very water resistant and strong, yet
flexible. The fruit is called a manzanilla, not to be confused with a manzana
(apple), or manzanita (little apple).
It is also not to be confused with the manzanilla
bush, whose leaves are used to make herbal tea, also known as camomile. Although
this information has been touted as the gospel in many tourist guides as the origin of
Manzanillo's name, the story is untrue.
By 1767 the port was down to its last manzanillo
tree, which was left as a living monument at the harbor's entrance. At that time the town
received another version of its name, singular this time: Puerto de La Manzanilla,
due to the fact that there was only one surviving manzanillo tree.
By 1821, the town became Puerto del Manzanillo,
after the tree this time, not the fruit. Legend has it that for many years, people (and
even burros) would come to rest in the shade of the manzanillo tree to gain a brief
respite from the hot afternoon sun. And those little apples looked so good to the people
and children (even burros), that many sampled them and became sick, or died (burros,
too). By 1825, the governor of the state of Colima decreed that the last remaining manzanillo
tree be cut down to protect his subjects. Finally, in 1873, the powers that be made
Manzanillo a city and shortened the name.
Today, if you want to see a manzanillo tree, you'll
have to go elsewhere, and even then, they're hard to find.
information and photograph was provided by local historian
Victor Hugo Gonzalez Rosas.