Sunday, 17 October, 2010 – West of La Quiaca
Yesterday’s predictions turned out to be right – the desiccated plants of Yavia cryptacarpa were hard to find, but not to the eagle eyes of Juan and Florencia and also for Ian. It’s difficult to see how many different pictures you can take of these tiny plants. After snapping just 32 images of Y. cryptacarpa, Parodia maassii, Echinopsis ferox and Cumulopuntia boliviana at the Yavia Type Locality (this time S1927) we moved on to S1928 for more of the same, although, as in 2008, the plants were more plentiful here. Juan and Flo were quite successful in spotting and collecting fruits. The name ‘cryptocarpa‘ is for the feature where the fruits (carpa) remain hidden (crypto) inside the plant body. It seems that these plants in December / January, after some summer rains, but that during October, buds are already present, pushing the fruit out of the plant body. So when the rains come, last year’s seed is ‘sown’ while this year’s production cycle starts afresh. Ian and Angie had walked into the hills north of the track, an area that may well be part of Bolivia. Ian came back excitedly with stories of a small mostly buried cactus with spines protruding above ground. He then found a plant in flower: yellow flowers and we agree with his opinion that he had found a Weingartia sp. possibly W. neumanniana. We decided to carry on west but soon found ourselves out of the hills (at 3,600 m altitude, it seems confusing to call the low hills around us ‘mountains’) and entered a flat plain. Juan advised that his GPS showed lakes in this area. S1929. The name of the village we arrived at gave us a clue: Cienaguillas indicates marsh land. A lonely policeman at the check point in the village was pleased to see passing traffic on this Sunday morning. He inspected my passport and car documents. Then asked me what ‘Nederland’ meant. ‘Hollanda’ I replied proudly. ‘Ah’, he said, ‘you keep coming second in World Cup Soccer finals!’ Thanks very much! We decided to go back to see Ian’s find at S1928. It seemed that as the track twisted and turned, there was an easier access point, so this time stop number S1930 was allocated. There were some nice white flowers growing in a sandy plain across the track. No idea for an ID yet. No leaves visible and we did not take the trouble to inspect below ground level. Ian strode up the hill and as we struggled to follow in his slip stream (this was 3,800 m. altitude!) he found time to find a Neowerdermannia vorwerkii in flower as well. At the top of the hill he quickly found the yellow flower spotted on his earlier visit and by the time I arrived, huffing and puffing, several plants without flower had been neatly marked by Cliff and David so that they could be easily found again for the benefit of my camera and Juan & Flo. An exiting find and full credit to Ian for his eagle eyed observations. Just wait until you get to our age! Angie, David and I decided that we had had as much excitement as we could handle today, but Ian, Cliff, Juan & Flo made one more stop to try to add to their Yavia cryptocarpa seed collection.