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Early this morning, the clocks in the UK changed to Summer Time, so in theory, it’s ‘safe’ for me to go back home. I fly out of Mexico City on Wednesday, so excellent timing before it gets too hot here. The following weekend, the clocks switch to Summer Time in Mexico.

Manuel, our host in Hotel Boca Sierra (highly recommended if you are passing through, especially when all the building work in progress has been completed. Toilet seats would be nice!) is also keen on cacti – there is a small Rebutia muscula in a pot at the bar – the discussion focused on whether it is alive or not. Manuel insisted on showing us a habitat (S3130) for Lophophora diffusa, taking us along a poor track that was OK for his Nissan pick up, but tough going for the tyres of the Jeep Patriot.  We get the impression that these plants are quite common and given the right substrate and aspect, any stop will do to see these plants. Thanks for showing us these plants, Manuel! There was an interesting Agave too, sure to be in John Pilbeam’s latest book, with a name.

Agave sp - S3130

Agave sp – S3130

Next we returned to yesterday’s stop where Ian had found large numbers of L. diffusa and also some Strombocactus disciformis, but with the road cutting wall being in the shade at that time and in failing light, we had come back today to photograph the dozen plants in sunlight and look for some more. We did – at least a thousand of them! Ian (who else) managed to find the only plant in flower; well done again!

Strombocactus disciformis

Strombocactus disciformis

‘What?!’ , I hear you say: ‘Another white flowered plant?’ Yes, but as these plants often grow in the shade, they still seem to be able to interest pollinators (although none seen).

On the flat, we found many clumps of Thelocactus leucacanthus – many of them looking quite beaten up, but others in bud or in flower. In this area north of Vizarron it is ssp. schmollii that occurs abundantly over the hillside. It differs from ssp. leucacanthus by having magenta flowers and the plants kindly obliged by showing them, proving that not all cactus flowers here are white.

Thelocactus leucacanthus ssp schmollii, 16 km north of Vizarron.

Thelocactus leucacanthus ssp schmollii, 16 km north of Vizarron.

But for me, the Strombos remained the stars of the day. I also have to compliment the Mexicans on MEX120, a wonderful asphalt road, with bits recently updated, taking out a few bends where the old road can still be entered for an easy car-park and hassle free photography.

The other bonus, staying in Hotel Boca Sierra, is that they make and sell all sorts of the local marble and alabaster ornaments. Ian has been ogling the alabaster eggs for his Mum, who has a huge collection of these. I could also not resist a few items (I wonder how much my luggage will weigh in at….. )

Tomorrow we might take another look at Zimapan to see if Thelocactus hastifer – in bud soon after we arrived, has sprung into flower yet.

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