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Friday 31 October – Concepcion Del Oro to Matehuala

Today confirmed my opinion from 2011 that Zacatecas was a fairly boring flat part of Mexico with few plants to enthuse a cactophile, with perhaps, as an exception, Stenocactus multicostatus, which as Echinocactus zacatecensis as a synonym, used to regularly pop up in cactus quizes as the cactus taxon with the longest binomial name. Even if contestants knew the answer, few were willing to risk its pronounciation, but is that a good reason for dropping the name?

I believe that all of us were quite pleased to leave the roadside ‘hotel & restaurant’ behind us. What seemed a reasonable place to pull into as we passed it late at night (i.e. after sunset) seemed preferable to driving into an unknown town where, based on our sight of the huge open cast mine during the previous afternoon brought back memories of Chile where occasionally we would find mining towns with no accommodation available with all rooms pre-booked by the local mines, whether they were occupied or not. The Friday of a public holiday weekend, Dia de Muertas – Halloween in the UK or as the religious holiday of Todos Santos – All Saints Day in the UK.

The wifi signal in the hotel was not strong enough to stream data through to Google Earth to check my data to see what cacti might be found here, so we headed south along MEX 54 towards the State capital, Zacatecas. At San Burcio we turned east onto MEX 62 and soon decided to make a comfort call at S3196 or had it been planned? Back home, writing up my notes after the trip, I see that this stop coincides with the only cactus data for the area with Ariocarpus retusus and Lophophora williamsii reported from 400 m. away (and probably found here by Ian who, with greater fitness that reflects his younger years, covers more distance than ‘the old gits’) – the reported plants were just 400 m away on the same hillside. On the plus side, as I tend to record any cactus taxon found at a stop, we were able to add many more taxa to this area, even if their name for now might just be limited to ‘sp.’ But the long long stretches of dead straight roads were for me the most memorable feature here.

The list of cacti that I photographed here , mainly as ‘for the record’ images consists of:
Ferocactus pilosus, three different Opuntia, including O. microdasys, two Coryphantha including C. pseudoechinus, two Mammillaria, including M. formosa, and Cylindropuntia imbricata as well as Agave, Yucca and Tradescantia sp., indicating that there is often more to an area, cactus-wise, than the database suggests.

We crossed the border from Zacatecas into San Luis Potosi where we stopped to add Lophophora williamsii to the list of plants photographed at S3197 and, closer to Matehuala, at S3198 it was a similar list again.

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