In 1999 we would often see the name Xique-Xique on sign posts, but we never got to the place. Today we did. The name comes from an old language used by local Indigenous people where it was the common name for a cactus currently known as Pilosocereus gounellei. This plant has a wide spread distribution area and is certainly not under any immediate threat. It was nice to see it here in the area that was named after it. We saw it at all of today’s five stops (S1678 to S1682).
Another plant seen at every stop today was Facheiroa ulei. This was the plant that we had difficulty identifying at S1654 on 2 January, west of Umburanas. There it was growing outside its previously reported range, so took us by surprise. Here, we were at it’s type locality around Santo Ignacio.
Our aim today was to see Melocactus zehntneri – again, a wide spread species with many different local variants. The plants here were originally described as M. giganteus and it is easy to see why as the plants are tall (we measured one at 56 cm (22 inches) tall. With its much heavier than usual spination, plants looked more like Ferocactus than Melocactus. There is a yellow spined form that as a youngster could pass for Eriosyce aurata from Hurtardo in Chile!
We tried a few different tracks around the almost deserted village of Santo Ignacio but could not add to our list of cactus taxa on our list.