Today was all about getting ‘home’, or at least to Florencia’s parents home at Lonquen, where again we were made very welcome.
So just one stop, and again it was the traditional stop at Pichidangui. This time it was much more relaxed than on 28 October when some of us were cactussed out. This time John had specifically asked for this stop, as it had also been the last cactus stop on his last Chile visit in 2001. In a way, it brought the two trips together. The weather was brilliant and again we just enjoyed sitting in the sun, soaking up the experience and taking some more pictures, as though I don’t have enough already from this location!
And as always, there was something new to spot. This time it was a Dioscorea, spotted before, when I noticed some small insignificant flowers but this time in fruit. A spot of searching in Wikipedia suggests that it is Dioscorea bryoniifolia. In the C&S hobby in the UK, Dioscorea are often found in the collections of Cacti and other Succulent Plant growers, where in particular D. elephantipes is popular, because of its large and unusual caudex. In my early collection days I paid quite a bit of money for a nice specimen, only to kill it by using furniture polish to make the caudex even more attractive. Well, we all have to learn.
So a quick look on Google revealed that there are some 600 species found in most tropical and some temperate zones around the world. The picture of Dioscorea bryoniifolia on a Chilean website http://www.chileflora.com/Florachilena/FloraEnglish/HighResPages/EH0900.htm)
is a perfect match for the plants I saw today at Pichidangui, but then I came across a paper that suggests that there are only three species of Dioscorea that are endemic to Chile: D. biloba, D. humilis and D. polyanthes, so it looks as though I’ll have to do a bit more research. Anyway, the reason that I spotted the plant was for its strangely shaped fruits. Pictures to follow. Dioscorea are of course better known as Yams and are more usually found in vegetable markets and green grocers around the world and have quite a few medical applications. So once again, a visit here had shown me something new and motivated me to look a bit deeper. All useful stuff for talks in 2011.
Regular friends seen and photographed again: Nolana sp. (several) Eriosyce curvispina (s.n. E. mutabilis) – in flower, E. chilensis ssp albidiflora – in flower and E. subgibbosa – not in flower, Eulychnia castanea in flower, but no fruits found with viable seed – this was the same story during both the October and November trips: plenty of Eulychnia buds and flowers but no fruits with ripe seed. A shame, as I still need seed from a few taxa to complete the seed photo section of the Eulychnia book. Florencia and Juan have promised to go on another trip north in February or March and will collect seed then. Also Oxalis sp and Euphorbia sp. (looks like E. thinophila but with wider leaves) and Calandrinia (one of the perennial taxa).
And so to the peace and quiet of Lonquen – until tonight that is, when Florencia has laid on a Flamenco dancing presentation. I’ll have my film camera ready!