Wednesday, 17 November, 2010 – Vallenar to Vicuña
Yesterday’s gloomy cloudy sky had made way for brilliant sunshine. It promised to be another great day, particularly when reports from the UK indicated a dark wet autumn day.
Just a quick stop to the Copec on the R5 junction, but today it transpired that they had a problem with the pumps, so that no fuel was available. Bummer! So, off to the Esso station on the other side of the road where everything was well.
I kept a careful eye on the Eulychnia along R5 south of Vallenar. These were definitely E. acida judging from the lateral position of buds and flowers.
We turned west at Domeyko and a repeat of the route taken on 26 October. That day, it had started to drizzle almost as soon as we had left R5. This time we had brilliant sunshine.
We stopped at the regular stop for Ritter’s C. pseudocoquimbana var. domeykoensis (S2054). The plants looked great, obviously having enjoyed the bit of rain the previous month. Cumulopuntia sphaerica and Miqueliopuntia miquelii were here and Eulychnia acida, tall plants, lateral flowering with a more bristly hypanthium than usual.
S2055 was S1965 in October and was for Eriosyce napina ssp tenebrica. We found a few plants, mainly because they were in fruit, but we had come to early to harvest them, as the seed was not yet ripe. We were now on the Llanos de Choros and surrounded by typical E. chorosensis.
After a bit of shopping for snacks in Carrizalillo we headed east, back to R5 and stopped (S2056) when short Eulychnia with an upright growth habit started to appear. These looked the same as those along R5 south of Vallenar and, later, as those growing at S2058 at El Trapiche. What to call these? E. chorocida? Copiapoa coquimbana was here, with quite a few flowers, as was M. miquelii, and E. heinrichiana (s.n. E. juss????)
S2057 was at the bottom of the hill where JA01 was at the top of the hill, so close together that one Stop number will do. The reason for the stop was me spotting a monstrous Eulychnia along the side of the road. Only the top of the stems were affected. The plant had been infected by the parasite Tristerix (Phnygilanthus) aphyllus. Could this have triggered the deformation? There were other plants with the Tristerix infection that had not turned monstrous.
S2058 was at another favourite location, this time going back to 2006 when Juan showed us E(T) napina ssp riparia. Just as in 2006, E. heinrichiana was in full flower.
S2059 was a brief stop at the Cactario Valencia, near Vicuña This cactus nursery had had a stand at the Plant Fair in Santiago that we visited on 30 October. There they had obviously brought their best plants along while this was their growing place, although their was also a fair selection of mainly larger plants offered for sale. It seemed that the lady was not really used to customers, appearing a little suspicious of the foreigners. I only took a few pictures here.
Then on to the Hosteria in Vicuna where we had enjoyed a very pleasant stay in October. This time we hoped to stay two nights, but unfortunately the Hosteria had been block booked for an astrological event. They recommended a Residencial (bed & breakfast) a few houses along where we managed to get a room with four beds.