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Let’s start with an update on yesterday’s Diaries, starting with the most exciting bit. It is not often that we take / get the time to review the pictures we took during the day, until the trip is over. Eunice was keen to see how good her pictures of Agave impressa were and zoomed in close on a plant with flower stalk. Imagine her surprise when, growing right next to it, she finds a ceroid with a pseudocephalium! Pilosocereus alensis! Just goes to show, never throw away ‘spare pictures until you have thoroughly checked if they contain anything of interest. Of course the problem is to find the time to make the thorough check. I hastily checked my pictures and yes, I too have the Pilosocereus alensis in the frame!

Correction: I reported for S1328: ‘… an Apocynaceae tree with peculiar fruits that may be Matelea porbifolia. The stem had large thorns on it, just like Ceiba.’ 

Please ignore the sentence. I did see a tree with a stem that almost certainly makes it a Ceiba sp. Ceiba are in the Family Malvaceae. The Matelea reference belongs elsewhere.

Today we headed inland for a journey of some 340 km to Durango. In the process we moved into a different time zone so that we are now 6 hours instead of 7 hours behind the UK.

I have tended to regard Opuntia s.s. in general as a genus of fairly uninteresting plants, They are so promiscuous that it is sometimes difficult to know what is a species and what is a natural hybrid. I refer here to the flat padded plants. Here in Mexico, there seem to be a number of Opuntias that have a quite distinct look about them, so that I’ll have to plough through the large section of hardly touched pages in the New Cactus Lexicon containing the pretty pictures, to see if I can put some names to them. In the mean time, forgive me when I refer to Opuntia sp #1 etc. It is never intended that O. sp. #1 at one stop is the same as O. sp #1 at another stop. The numbers are just for that stop.

All of today’s stops are along Mex 40, the Mazatlan to Durango road. We started with specific stops, as usual, but as time pressed on and we were seeing lots of different Agaves, things became a little blurred, so that some stop numbers refer to a fairly long stretch of road.

And Agave’s are still a mystery to me, so at this stage, they too will be referred to as Agave sp. #1 etc. in the hope that Eunice will provide names in tie to come.

Alain’s pictures and some of mine that come through Angie, should have GPS data embedded in their metadata, so get a browser that allows you to view this info (I use ACDSEE, but Picasa2, a free image browser is excellent and available as a free down load)

So, what did we see? Great scenery as the road climbed from sea level to 2,800 m. and wound its way into the Sierra Madre Occidentalis. The temperature dropped from much too hot to explore, to very comfortable. And plant wise? This was Agave Day!

S1330:  Hylocereus ocamponis, Opuntia sp. #1 & #2, Orchid sp., Tillandsia sp. #1 & #2

S1331:  Agave sp., Opuntia sp.

S1332: We had now hit ‘the mother lode as far as Agave’s & scenery were concerned, so took a few hours to cover very few kilometers but I collected 134 images along the way! They include: Agave schidigera, A. sp. #1, #2, #3 Bromeliad sp. #1, Disocactus schrankii or speciosa?, Echeveria sp., Nolina sp., Opuntia sp. #1, #2 plus a plant that looks remarkably like a Rhipsalis or similar epiphytic cactus, only seen & photographed from a distance. There are no records for true epiphytic cacti in Mexico in my dataset, so more homework when I get home. This stop took us all the way up to the monument at the Espinazo del Diablo, a kind of ridge pass with magnificent views to either side of the road.

S1333 are for images taken from Espinazo del Diablo, 199 km from Durango, as we drove east along Mex 40, before reaching the plain where Durango is located and are of scenery rather than specific plants.

S1334 was a leg stretch as we approached Durango – now on the plain, with an Agave sp.  Opuntia sp. and Yucca sp. (Y. filifera?).

The SatNav system seemed unacquainted with the town of Durango, sending us up one way streets or in circles without knowing where to go. As always, these things happen at the end of the day when every one is tired and problem solving becomes more of a challenge.

Sat in our hotel rooms, I find that we probably passed by some very interesting cacti without having spotted them, so the question becomes: will we see these again later on, or is the only way that we’ll see these cacti this trip a matter of returning a fair distance on MEX40 to do a more detailed search? And do we have the time? And do we have the motivation? For now my eyes are stinging and I badly need some sleep.

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