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Today was planned to be just a driving day. We needed to get  to the village of Umburanas, which on most maps has one asphalt road going in before you fall off the edge into nowhere by following one of the three dirt roads going out of town. But it seems that we have internet connectivity and so might be able to keep you posted of our activities during the next few days (we’re provisionally booked in to the night of 5 January).

S1651 was a much needed P break and leg stretch at a rocky outcrop that Marlon spotted near Jacobina. We could see the Pilosocereus p and Cereus jamacaru from the road, but had to stomp along the rocks to find Melocactus ernestii.

We arrived in Umburanas around three – early enough to secure rooms in the only hotel in town, although Marlon has since spotted a Pousada as well, just in case. Plenty of time for a bit of exploring, so we went back out to the crossroads, where the asphalt road came in and selected the dirt road to the west. There is much agriculture going on with Agave sisalana planted in many fields along the road. Just as we decided that this did not look very promising for cacti, the track headed off into the hills, until eventually becoming too rough to continue on in our city slicker’s car, some 30 km along from Umburanas. S1652 is a record of cacti seen and photographed along the track, at the next two stops and on the way back, while S1653 was specifically for Micranthocereus flaviflorus ssp. falviflorus with yellow flower buds confirming its ID.

Similarly, S1654 was specifically for a Facheiroa sp. that requires a bit investigation before it can be given a positive ID. These plants are rarely seen in UK collections, accept of those who specialise in Brazilian ceroids. For five years I was the proud owner of a F. squamosa seedling that was about 15 cm (6") tall when it moved in and about 30 cm (12") when it succumbed to a cold winter while I was enjoying the South American warmth. The plant had been so unremarkable during its stay, that I had trouble remembering what it was when I saw its remains. In habitat we have now seen it several times, when it makes attractive stands of tall thin stems of 3m (9ft) length. F. ulei and F. cephaliomelana form a long, thin pseudocephalium that on mature plants seems to take up the upper third of the stem. This had a pseudocephalium, so we just need to check which of the two it is.

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