During the night, the clocks had switched from Winter Time to Summer Time, which meant that we had to carefully set alarm clocks to be up at 6 a.m. for breakfast at 7 and on the road by 8. Our body clocks were already so confused that it really did not matter. It was light when we got up, and we were itching to and see our first cacti in habitat. We all managed except for Marlon, Woody & John, all sharing a room, firmly blaming Marlon, all in good humour.
Today we spent most of the time on good dirt roads, running parallel to BR471 making seven stops in all. I’ll stick with my S (stop) numbers, but will include Marlon’s MM numbers to enable cross referencing to his field list for names and other information.
S1400 (MM177) – Marlon pointed at the rocky out crops with the instruction:’ Go get them boys!’. Well, not really, but that’s how we felt. In the end Marlon and Angie sat this one out as a formidable fence including barbed wire needed to be conquered. As I walked up hill through dense low forest I was reminded of a similar walk south of Mazatlan, Mexico over six months ago. Lots of lichens on the trees and rocks, mosses and the lush vegetation indicating that this place was usually quite wet. There they were: my first sight of a Frailea in habitat: Frailea gracillima. The plants were hardly the size of the top of my little finger. Why is it that small plants are often so fascinating? Other cacti included Parodia (Notocactus) ottonis and Cereus hildmannianus
Stop S1401 was a total of three clearings that Marlon had given separate numbers to on an earlier visit MM178, MM179 and MM180. The cacti were the same taxa as at the previous stop, except that the Frailea here was a nomen nudum: F. gigantea, regarded to be no more that a large form of F. gracillima. The plants were in bud and if we had waited, we would have seen one of the Frailea’s flowers open. Nice stop in very pleasant ‘not too hot, not too cold’ conditions.
Stop S1402 was very brief, caused by me exercising the right of any member of the expedition to shout ‘Stop!’ because they had seen something of interest: A reasonably sized P. ottonis with three nearly open flowers.
S1403 was Marlon’s MM181. Again, it was just a quick stop for a couple of dozen P. ottonis in full flower., near a farm house, as though they had been planted there.
S1404 (MM182) was for a Dyckia, some Tillandsias and one or two more Frailea gigantea.
S1405 (MM185) was for Parodia (Wigginsia) langsdorfii, something different again! We were seeing a good amount of cactus diversity on day 1!
S1406 (MM186) was a Marlon special, as he introduced us to Parodia gaucha, a new species that he and João F. Larocca described in 2008 (in Novon: A Journal for Botanical Nomenclature 18(2):214-219. 2008). It is an interesting plant that we could see growing / hanging on the steep rock face along the side of the road. We also found it growing alongside P. ottonis and along a plant that we referred to as a ‘dense-spined form’ of P. ottonis, that gave the impression of possibly being an intermediate form between the two. To add to the excitement, we also found anther Frailea, F. pygmaea, tiny plants, some already in bud.
We finished the day at S1407 (MM104) which had Parodia concinnus, P linkii and P. ottonis growing together.
A great day, full of promise for the rest of the trip!