Saturday, 5 March, 2011 – Matehuala to Zaragosa and back
Where did we want to go today?
A simple enough question, but when you are surrounded by locations that contain more Connoisseur Cacti than your average nursery, the question is not so easily answered. Eunice wanted to go to Zaragosa so I suggested the first location from the database on the road from Matehuala to Zaragosa. As it was, we missed the turning and so missed Turbinicarpus macrochele, but got the next turning spot on and stopped at a natural car park at the bottom of a low hill – the kind of location that you could find all over this area, but this one had been explored before and on that occasion had rewarded the explorers with Pelecyphora (Encephalocactus) strobiliformis. I’d put money on that species occurring on every low hill in sight, but time was too short (again) to check that out.
I noted S2288 as the next available stop number and by the time we got back to the car had added the following to my plant list: Agave asperrima (s.n. A. scabra), A. lechuguilla, A. stricta, Ariocarpus retusus – just one plant spotted, but again, they seem to be on every hill side – Cylindropuntia sp., Dasylirion longissimum (s.n. D. quadrangulatum), Echinocactus platyacanthus, Euphorbia misera, Mammillaria formosa ssp chionocephala, Neolloydia conoidia, Opuntia sp., yes!: Pelecyphora strobiliformis, Stenocactus sp., Thelocactus hexaedrophorus and Yucca faxoniana (s.n. Y. carnerosana). There was probably also a Coryphantha sp or was it another Thelocactus sp. here? The pictures below are all from this stop.
This trip is as much an expedition to get to know the roads and facilities offered by the various towns and villages as a search for cacti and other succulents. Using locations reported by other cactus explorers helps to recognise what grows where without losing too much time, while the ad-hoc leg stretch and toilet stops rarely fail to surprise us with things not previously reported.
The towns & villages objective took us to Dr. Arroyo (S2889), La Escondida, Aramberri (S2891) and Zaragosa (S2892) during which I added Pachycereus marginatus and Dasylirion berlandieri (The ‘Zaragosa Blue Twister’) to my plant list.
The ad-hoc leg stretch stop (S2890) was prompted by Eunice spotting a large Ferocactus pilosus along the road and suggesting that our friend Alain Buffel from Ostend, Belgium, would feel better during these hard winter days in Europe by seeing a picture of this plant taken by Eunice’s cell phone and sent as soon as she had a phone signal. Miracles of modern technology. I’ll hold fire on the plants found here, other than to say that I saw Echinocereus pentalophus for the first time in nature. For many of the other plants I struggle to even name the genus!