These huge flowers appear in my Mèrida garden several times per year. They last showed themselves in November, and began to blossom again in mid February. The blooms resemble those of the plant which we call "skunk cabbage" in Alaska, differing mostly in color; skunk cabbage flowers are yellow. This is macal, of which two varieties are indigenous to Yucatan, known as macal box (maCAL bosh) and xmakin macal (shmaKEEN maCAL). As best I can tell by talking to people, this is the latter variety.
In my garden where it receives a lot of water, macal grows and flowers all year, but my research tells me that in natural surroundings these plants sprout in May, or around the hot and steamy beginning of the rainy season, and the edible roots are ready for harvest in November. New plants sprout from the roots, and spread quickly. I once chopped down a couple of these plants that were very mature and had stopped producing healthy new leaves, and within two months I had probably twenty new examples which had grown from the roots, which I had left in the soil. The roots are huge; I read somewhere that three or four would fill a bushel basket. The flesh is white and very starchy, and some people have told me that eating macal in excess can cause sickness. I haven't tried it yet. I am waiting for someone with experience in cooking and eating macal to help me with the recipe the first time I prepare it for the table.
The plants grow wild, and are commonly seen in rural gardens. I get the impression that in the past macal was eaten more commonly than now. The presence of potatoes and a greater variety of vegetables has somewhat displaced macal in the Yucatecan diet, except perhaps in cases of families living in extreme poverty. I appreciate the huge leaves for their ornamental value, and the flowers because they are delicate despite their large size, and for their mild, pleasant aroma.