As it was David’s first time in Chile, I thought it might be nice to show him C. cinerea ssp haseltoniana. It was also on Cliff’s wish list. To appreciate the high altitude C. haseltoniana – C. eremophila, you had to be familiar with the ‘normal’ sea side plants.
S1950 was therefore at the Paposo Cemetery, another old and trusted site since 2001. All the usual cacti from previous year were there, and then started to take a closer look at some of the herbi – annuals that had appeared. December’s trip to Patagonia promised a number of rosulate Violas on the plant menu, but here they were too, in large numbers.
Next we moved on to the fog zone above Paposo (S1951) – well named on this occasion. We found the final part of the way blocked by an inconsiderate camper bus, just left in the middle of the path. It turned out that the driver had done us a favour as a bit farther along the track it was completely impassable and there were no turning points. Water and possibly an earth quake had destroyed the track. So we proceeded on foot. Although all the usual cacti from previous visits were photographed and looking good, the main attraction this time were again the field flowers, annuals and perennials who were showing off there colour. A family from Paposo came up for a day’s outing. The father said that they had not seen anything like this for over 50 years!
S1952 was for the excellent 2007 stop, more inland, of giant clumps of C. eremophila / haseltoniana. Eulychnia taltalensis looked in the best shape that I have seen it in – not saying much – and was in bud and flower. We cut up some flowers for cross section pictures for the Eulychnia book project.
With a little time left before sunset, we decided to make another quick visit to the Copiapoa desertorum site near Chifuncho. We again found only red flowered plants (Ritter’s C. rubriflora) and also found Eriosyce (Thelocephala) weisseri, the most northern Thelocephala, in flower. I wonder how many times I have walked over these plants without knowing of their existence. Who said that it must be boring to keep returning to the same spots year after year?
It was again approaching sunset as we returned to Taltal. Another exhausting day and we were glad to crawl into our beds. But what next????