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A great day! Not just because we were on the way home, slowly, but because 4.1 km from the hotel (the same one where we stayed in 2011 – the caretaker / owner was still drunk!) we completed our challenge of seeing every major taxon of Ariocarpus in flower, by finding A. agavoides (S3205). The plants would have been a real challenge to find if they had not been in flower! A couple of German cactus explorers were also staying in the hotel and as we stood on the hill, they must have seen our cars and parked behind us, climbing up as we were coming back. We told them the good news, that they were in the right place and that the flowers were waiting for them!

Ariocarpus agavoides (S3205)

Ariocarpus agavoides (S3205)

S3206 was a stop from last March and probably also from 2011 – it all seemed very familiar as we saw some lovely Astrophytum myriostigma, Thelocactus tulensis, Neolloydia conoidea, and of course an Ariocarpus, not in flower, so not sure if these were members of the confused A. confusus gang; the tubercles can be quite variable in retusus.

Neolloydia conoidea and Thelocactus tulensis at S3206

Neolloydia conoidea and Thelocactus tulensis at S3206

We turned south for Palomas and Las Tablas and made a stop (S3207) to stretch our legs – we’ve rarely been disappointed making an ad-hoc stop along this road! S3207 was no exception. There were some nice Asdtrophytum myriostigma almost next to where Bart had parked the car.

There are too many nice white spined Mams to know what we were looking at here – their appearance can vary depending on exposure to the sun or in a shady spot between Agave lechuguila, Hechtias and other things to tear at your ankles. I had wandered off in one direction and when I got back to the car, Bart & Alain asked, ‘Did you see the flowering Ariocarpus?’ No! and so we went back through the shrubs – everything has thorns or spines and is out to get you!

The Arios here had big chunky tubercles and pink / purple / magenta coloured flowers – the confusion arises from people with different native languages describing colours, including me who is colour blind!

Ariocarpus confusus? S3207

Ariocarpus confusus? S3207

S3208 was a rendez vous with an Old Friend, the Echinocactus platyacanthus known by me as ‘Old Friend’ from 2011 and March 2014 visits and ‘Giant’ (over 3m tall). I’ll suggest here that this is the tallest Echinocactus platyacanthus ever, until somebody else shows me a larger specimen to take over the title (so that I’ll have to go back and give some fertiliser to this one!)

My Old Friend and I (S3208)

My Old Friend and I (S3208)

We had a great time crawling all over the hill before returning to the car, with Alain finding another multi-headed Ariocarpus in full (19!!!) flower. We’ve christened this Super Ario, but you’ll have to wait a bit before I share this in my talks.

We stayed again at Hotel Premier, where the wifi remembered us from previous visits after a reboot of the router and soon were off to Café La Granja where we have enjoyed excellent rib-eye steaks before, and again tonight, washed down with a bottle of Concha y Toro’s Seleccion, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

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