Over breakfast, Charlie kindly pointed out that Kanab is pronounced Knab, but not like knee, where the k is silent. Confused? Breakfast at Lees Ferry Lodge can have that effect in the nicest possible way. Eunice rang to say that she had arrived home safely and to enquire after Angie’s shoulder after the chiropractor treatment – some improvement but full recovery will take a while.
Todays stops were:
S2501: This was along a track off Hwy 89-A and this time it took only three minutes from parking the car to finding our first Pedio, P. paradinei. I forgot to mention yesterday that P. bradyi had already finished flowering but had not yet set ripe seed. We assume that we were just too early and that the slow reduction in its numbers reported in the monitoring paper is not due to some other factor, such as a demise in the natural pollinator. We have learned by now that not all small globular cacti found in our search for Pedio are in fact members of that genus. A close inspection of the tubercles revealed a groove from the areole towards the axil, a feature found in Coryphantha but not in Pediocactus. The Coryphantha is likely to be C. vivipara, a highly variable species with a number of subspecies. It took another half an hour to find our first P. paradinei in flower, with only the flower visible above the gravely soil, just like Thelocephala in Chile.
It seemed that flowering plants had longer, softer spination than the smaller plants not seen in flower. The latter looked similar to P. bradyi. So, does P. paradinei have distinct juvenile and mature spination? [note to self to check this out in literature when I get home]. C. vivipara was here, forming multiheaded clumps and generally larger in appearance. Also seen Opuntia polyacantha, a Cylindropuntia sp. and Echinocereus engelmannii.
As we drove back towards the 89-A we commented that there did not seem to be any reason why the Pedio should not grow all along the track, so to prove the point, we had a quick look around at S2502 which was covered with white daisy-like flowers. And sure enough, before too long we had found P. paradinei here as well.
S2503 was a stop at a scenic view spot, with the Antilope Trails Vendors Association displaying more Navajo pottery and jewelry. I might have to get a trailor for the pottery purchases!
The next set of coordinates suggested for Pediocactus surprised us. S2504 was in a forest setting rather than in open fields as the genus name implies. After being confused by some C. vivipara, we did find P. paradinei as well and here too we saw plantys in flower.
S2505 was for a location near Fredonia where P. sileri had been seen. Despite over an hour’s worth of searching (3 ‘man hours’, considering that there were three of us) we failed to find any Pediocactus. Were we in the right place? Coordinates were checked and double checked, but I might have written them down incorrectly while collecting data, or a transcription error at source can easily take you to the wrong place. [Since arriving home I have mapped the Stop data onto Google Earth and confirm that we were in the right place].
It seems that this area was used as a recreation area for young adults – plenty of broken beer bottles and spent shot gun cartridges plus dumped fridges that had been used for target practice plus tyre marks in unusually steep places suggesting that scrambler bikes had been here to tear up the ground. Or was it our unfamiliarity with the plants, rarely seen in cultivation in Europe, unless grafted? We photographed every cactus seen and have since identified them as Escobaria vivipara and Echinocereus engelmannii.
We had more luck at S2506 in more than one way. First of all we found small cacti that were clearly not those seen at the previous stop. They seemed quite abundant, although we did not stay too long. The reason for this was that we found a sign indicating that we were on State Land Trust terrain with a warning that trespassers would be prosecuted and that entry was only possible with written permission. Too late to scribble a note to ourselves granting us permission to enter? Anyway, P. sileri got a tick on my ‘plants seen in habitat’ checklist.