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Archive for October 21, 2009

Thursday, 22 October 2009 – Dom Predito to Sao Gabriel

Today started as well as yesterday had finished, again another heap of taxa all in one location (S1432) : Cereus hildmannianus, Dyckia sp., Echinopsis oxygona, Frailea mammifera,  Lepismium lumbricoides, Opuntia brunneogemmia, Parodia ottonis, P. linkii,  P. arnostiana,  P. permutata (Notocactus ritterianus),  P. langsdorfii, P. sellowii – we were in a real area of cactus diversity!

S1433 gave us Frailea pygmaea, Parodia ottonis and Cereus hildmannianus according to Marlon’s list for his stop RS-051. Looking through my pictures I also find that I photographed P. linkii, P. sellowii, and Gymnocalycium denudatum and I now see that Marlon has added two extra reference numbers to his list for these additional plants. I also photographed a couple more Iris sp.

S1434 was an impromptu stop along the track, because the side of the road was a low rocky outcrop with lots of cacti in flower. we found  Frailea pygmaea, Gymnocalycium denudatum, P. ottonis, and P. sellowii. Those yellow flowers really stand out and shout! We noted that while we had at most stops squeezed ourselves between tight strands of wire, here, and at various other stops before, the cacti were on the road side of the fence, not inside the fenced off area. That is where the cattle grazed, while roadside the plants were protected from these bovine bulldozers. I promised myself to look roadside first before squeezing myself between more wires.

Close to the gate to Fazenda Aurora we made another stop (S1435). Here we found Frailea densispina (and F. horstii?) growing on outcrops of metamorphic igneous rock together with P. langsdorfii and P. ottonis.

S1436 was almost continuous with the previous stop and had Frailea densispina with golden spines and F. horstii with white spines again together with P. langsdorfii and P. ottonis.

At S1437 all these taxa were joined by Parodia scopa ssp. succinea.

S1438 was another stop for P. succinea, a yellow spined subspecies of the white spined P. scopa.

By just reading these reports you might ask why we put ourselves through some expense and discomfort, just to see these same plants growing in nature. It is to see the diversity of these habitats that is interesting, with sometimes an expected taxa missing and sometimes a species not yet seen coming into the picture(s), literally. Yes, I know, we’re mad. But having harmless fun and seeing and learning a lot about foreign countries and its nature, people and climate in general.  

Wednesday, 21 October 2009 – Caçapava do Sul to Dom Predito

At the moment, I write up my notes in the morning following the Diary Date, simply because after a quick freshen up after our arrival, it is down to dinner and when we get back, I’m in deep sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

We had another great day cactussing, making six stops (according to Angie’s notes – mine are in the car). Again, there were a good number of first time encounters with taxa that so far I only knew ‘from captivity’ in my collection back home. 

We were due to have spent the night in Bage and arrived in good time to allow a much needed rest and start on downloading and note writing, but all hotels and motels in town turned out to be full or out of our budget. Once again (as in Chile) it turned out that a mining corporation had block booked all available rooms for a six month period. We turned down the opportunity to stay in a hotel clearly designed for an additional purpose, with cabanas providing only a double bed, rather than the two singles preferred by most blokes sharing rooms on a cactus trip. 

So it was that we decided again to drive on to the next town, Dom Predito, another 65 km along the road where our third attempt to find rooms was successful. Apart from a minor set back when Woody’s bed collapsed underneath him as he was downloading his pictures.

The complementary glasses of rum, the cocktails (similar to Pisco Sour in Chile) and ample quantities of cold beer helped to raise the spirits (excuse pun) again and to wash down the excellent food.

Oh yes, we had seen cacti as well today:

S1427: We drove along RS 357 from Caçapava do Sul towards Lavras do Sul before turning right (west) on an  unpaved road towards Santa Bárbara. After some 15 km we stopped at rock outcrops to the left of the road and found Frailea pygmaea, Gymnocalycium denudatum, Parodia (Notocactus) crassigibba, Parodia (Wigginsia) langsdorfii and P. sellowii

S1428: was farther along RS 357 and had G. denudatum and a form of F. gracillima called gigantea growing in the grass. Good job that no one cuts the grass here, or the plants would be gone.

S1429: still on RS 357 heading from Caçapava do Sul towards Lavras do Sul we stopped to see Parodia crassigibba, Parodia ottonis, Frailea pygmaea, and Parodia langsdorfii. I also managed a few shots of the ovenbird nests. These birds get their name because the nests that they build from mud look very similar to clay ovens. We had seen them before in 2005 in Argentina.

S1430 was a short, but difficult climb through low shrubs. I kept seeing Angie’s hat bopping up above the shrubbery while I had already reached a higher vantage point. We found Parodia ottonis, P. neobuenekeri, Gymnocalycium denudatum, P. sellowii, Cereus hildmannianus and Opuntia rubrogemmia

S1431 was a real treasure throve in terms of cactus taxa found in one location: Frailea gracillima,  F. pygmaea, F. horstii, Parodia langsdorfii, P. mammulosa, P. werneri (Notocactus uebelmannianus var. pleiocephalus), P. ottonis, Opuntia brunneogemmia, O. rubrogemmia,  Gymnocalycium denudatum, Echinopsis oxygona, and Cereus hildmannianus! Not bad for a single stop. Let’s hope that I can put the names to the pictures in time to come.