In 2008 we had taken the turning east off MEX1 at San Telmo – a good hard top road signposted to the Parque Nacional de Sierra San Pedro de Martir. On that occasion our time budget was very limited, so that after a few brief stops we had to turn back, some 20 km from MEX1. This time we drove some km into the Parque – about 80 km from MEX1 before deciding that it was time to turn back.
As we seem to be on a Dudleyathon, it comes as no surprise that we stopped at every Dudleya that we spotted along the road, unlike in 2008 when Cliff, Ian and I were firmly focussed on the cacti, eventually having to ignore Eunice’s pleas to stop for yet another Dudleya, as we did need to get to a hotel before dark.
This time we drove through the green rolling hills past the 2008 stops. Once we had broken into new territory we stopped for Dudleya spotted growing in the shade on the side of the 3m high road cutting (S2237). We think that the plants in front of our lenses was Dudleya ingens, but will check the late Reid Moran’s on-line field notes to see what he has reported from this area. It all seemed so straight forward. All the plants were very uniform in appearance. Except that we found just a couple of plants growing close together that looked like D. attenuata. And then we drove off.
Hardly 100 meters down the road and we screeched to a halt again. We spotted a batch of Dudleya pulverulenta or, from Reid Moran’s field notes, D. pulverulenta ssp. arizonica, which prompts me to make a note to look up the differences between the species and ssp. arizonica. I went back 100 yds to the first part of this stop and low to the ground found a number of (assumed) young plants of D. ingens, or where they? And it seemed that there was another form, a hybrid? between what and what? It had much more lanceolate leaves, but D. lanceolata is not reported from this area. This is not a matter to ponder after a couple of margaritas! The longer I look at the 100 images of Dudleya I took at this spot, the more confused I become. Eunice is helping by adding another half dozen candidate names to the confusion.
S2238, higher up in the mountains (929 m. altitude) was a lot easier: Echinocereus engelmannii and no Dudleya! And a Cylindropuntia sp. – a genus that I’m ignoring as too difficult on this trip.
The scenery changed dramatically – we were now in very rocky terrain with conifers and we had not seen cacti or succulent for the last 20 km. We stopped to take a GPS reading and scenery picture for what became our turn around stop. (S2239 at 2,308 m altitude). We noticed that Elsie had lost one third (off- side corner) of her front bumper unit. When did that happen? Eunice looked back through her images and found that the part was missing as long ago as our trip into the Sierra San Francisco.
On the journey down, with some spectacular views right to the Pacific Ocean, it was my turn to bring Elsie to a screeching halt as I spotted a mound of Echinocereus that has to be E. pacificus, (S2240) and so another tick on my list of cactus taxa photographed in habitat. And we had hardly got moving again, just around a bend and Eunice shouted ‘Stop!’ for another Dudleya pulverulenta. So what? This was at 1,615 m. altitude which makes me wonder what the highest recorded habitat is for Dudley and what species this applies to. There were 4 plants within the reach of our lenses. Very nice clean plants.
By now I have a real head ache. Too many margaritas? Too many unanswered Dudleya questions? Tomorrow will tell.