Our Cactus Adventures continue at a relentless pace, another ten stops today! Excellent! But with the day cramped solid from the 6 a.m. alarm on Angie’s mobile phone until I fall into bed exhausted at around 10 p.m. we’re on the go. Something has to give and that something is writing up the Diaries. Even just a list of today’s stops and a list of what we had seen would take too long. I have my images ad paper notes for that later so will keep to a few overview impressions.
I somehow managed to forget my traditional expedition hat, on the packing table at Angie’s. As I still had my pre-expedition no. 3 hair cut, the result was a red scalp and a new hat bought in the shop next door to the hotel after the damage was done.
As was the case yesterday, today’s stops were revisits of the exploration that Marlon had done before in 2005 and 2006 and again he was amazed at the changes, all due to the much more intense use of the land for forestry, agriculture and the highly efficient land clearing activities of bovine tractors (cows), sheep and goat. Many thriving habitat locations from 2005 and 2006 had their plant numbers decimated or destroyed. At the TL of Parodia (Notocactus) scopa only a few young seedlings were found.
Yesterday, those of us that managed to cram into Woody’s car (all except Cliff & I) finished the day at a P. scopa location where they found only three or four plants. On both occasions it would have been better to visit these first thing in the morning as, unlike other cacti we had found, these have a strong preference to grow on east facing slopes, i.e. in full shade by the time we got their at the end of the day.
And we continue to be surprised at what we find in some unlikely looking places. I dare say that without Marlon’s guidance we would not have stopped at many of them. The sound of water logged meadows squelching under foot is not usually associated with cactus explorations. Once we had reached the rocky outcrops the cacti appeared.
So, what did we see today? In no particular order and without checking books for the correct spelling: Frailea phaeodisca, F. gracillima ssp. horstii, Echinopsis oxygona, including one plant with its flower fully opened (an orderly queue was formed to take its picture), Parodia in the Parodia (Notocactus) crassigibba complex, including the red flowered P. uebelmannianus and its yellow flowered cousin, P. archnites, suggesting that flower colour alone is not enough to uphold different species names and Gymnocalycium denudatum.
Breakfast calls, so I’ll fill in with more detailed text and pictures at a later date.