Fortunately there is no rule that says that I have to write every word of the Cactus Trip Diaries. I’m therefore very pleased today to hand over the keyboard to mi amigo, Senor Brian Bates for today’s account of what we did and saw. Brian has lived in Sucre since February 1999. Any arguments about nomenclature etc on a post card to BB’s post box in Sucre please!
This will save you some work. Feel free to cut and paste or delete as you wish. I’ve used the NCL nomenclature as befits a cactophile infected with the huntitis virus.
I had a very enjoyable day yesterday. Thank you all.
Diary entry Saturday 26th november 2011 – Sucre towards Los Alamos and Poroma
After breakfast we took the road towards the airport before turning to the right and thence the road to Los Alamos. On my first visit to Bolivia in 1989, this road was very difficult to find and none of the houses or shops existed, only millions of plastic bags blown about by the wind and the mountains of rubbish which had been dumped. The now paved road, at least at the intersection, was a narrow dirt road.
Just after the airport we stopped at the edge of the Eucalyptus planting at S2455 (=BB203). Here the campesinos had made steps to get up to the water tank and walled enclosure. The steps didn’t pass any health and safety standards as there was no handrail. [PK for John Carr: arranging steps or even escalators would be of great benefit for cactus explorers. What a shame, Brian, that after the first 10 steps we were back to climbing through a barren field. I guess the health & safety people had insisted on proper handrails before allowing the building of steps to continue]. We found Rebutia (Sulcorebutia) canigueralii (losenickyana) [PK: well done Brian, that seems to cover most bases, although should you not have included Weingartia in there somewhere?] in large numbers even some in flower. Wiebe also found an Echinopsis (Lobivia) which I assume to be E. cinnabarina, which is very common. Sucre is more or less in the centre of its east/west distribution which goes for about 200 km to the east and 130 km to the west, these distances by road. [PK: so that will clear up a number of ‘Lobivia sp. references in previous days’ reports].
We moved on to the pass above Barrance which is the type locality of Rebutia (Sulcorebutia) vasqueziana S2456 (=BB346). We were joined and helped by two young, local boys who looked for red flowers, which they found, but unfortunately not on the cactaceae. We found a few larger plants of about 3cm diameter, but all the plants, except when damaged, were solitary, none of the large groups we find in cultivation. Wiebe asked if it was related to Rebutia (Sulcorebutia) roberto-vasquezii . They were both named after the same man Dr. Roberto Vasquez Chavez, a botanist, who lives in Santa Cruz. Roberto Vasquez is now busy with Orchidaceae and Bromeliaceae rather than Cactaceae, their gain is our loss. We didn’t find any other cactus here.
We moved on to the end of another planting of Eucalyptus where we had a marker of 2 dead trees. We discussed the presence of the gum in these trees, but the dead trees seemed to be very dry and hard, and because of this would probably be here for some years to come, especially since they would ruin a chain saw. We walked along a path which ran parallel to the road, passing Autrocylindropuntia vestita (teres) in full flower. We started to climb the white looking cerro S2457 (=BB347). About half way up we started to see Rebutia (Sulcorebutia) vasqueziana (alba). [PK: Great, but I think we’ll need to rethink the length of plant labels. 30 cm should do it!] Near the top, John spotted two plants in flower and on the descent I found a plant with 2 fruits which I gave to John and Wiebe.
About half way back to the car, we stopped at a low, grass covered hill which had been found the week before by a group of Czechs led by Ladislav Horacek, S2458 (BB347a). Here we found Rebutia (Sulcorebutia) pulchra (frankiana). Just as we were leaving, John found a huge plant in flower, about 6cm in diameter and in show worthy condition. [PK: Today’s Best Plant In Show!]
We made a “U” turn and returned to the junction with the road to Paroma which was quite a distance back towards the city. We drove north for quite a distance we made a stop at the pass top, S2459 (BB813), a normal place to stop. We found quite a few plants including Rebutia (Sulcorebutia) canigueralii (var. applanata) and R. pulchra, Echinopsis obrepanda, Cleistocactus buchtienii, Parodia tuberculata var. sucrensis, a grass type Puya, an aroid with deeply incised leaves, Peperomia galioides and maybe two Echeveria sp. This was decided because the plant in the open was green and had a thick trunk while the plant in the shade was dark brown.
I tried to find the Rebutia that had been in flower the previous week, but without success, so we turned round and headed for the hostel. Wiebe called a stop (S2460) when he saw Parodia about 6 metres or so above the road. These were in flower. He was the only one to climb up. You just can’t keep “the young pups” under control. That turned out to be the last stop of a very successful and enjoyable day.’
Many thanks Brian, that was very useful and we enjoyed it too. Just like being out on the road together in Brazil 1999 and a short stint in Argentina in 2008. We finished off with the usual steak, chips and large bowl of ice-cream dinner. When we got back to the Hostel there was a huge party in progress. The owner of the Fundacion Hostelling International Bolivia, Max Steiner, had organised a function for up to 200 guests, many of them notable people of the Sucre community. We were invited to join in and enjoyed a few beers before the day’s activities got the better of me.