Today, we were joined by Pablo’s younger brother Rolf with his partner Renata – two people not with our deep passion for cacti, but interested in seeing what it was all about.
We started off with a visit to Las Breas, Philippi’s TL for Copiapoa cinerea subsp. cinerea. In 2013 there were still huge fileds of C. cinerea here, but since then, a water management system with concrete canals and reservoirs had been built that had badly let the side down last March. It seems that the system had been extended further since. We found our way on tracks throgh terrain where quarying for materials to produce the concrete channels and for road building, all at the expense of numerous C. cinerea – by the acre. No doubt last March’s floods would have further contributed to the habitat destruction.
It was quite a novelty to see these plants growing in so much other vegetation with Alstroemeria the most spectacular. All the cinereas looked as if they had enjoyed a good drink although some looked as though they had been used as pins on a bowling alley and had gained a few dents and bruises.
From here we drove to Cifuncho, where, behind the village, we had little trouble to find ‘Benjy’s Plant’, a.k.a. Copiapoa ‘sp Cifuncho’. It too had weathered the floods well, although the water had reshaped the landscape here as well. For me it is still the northern most form of C. longistaminea, that is first seen and plentiful on the beach below the hill tops of Las Lomitas in the Pan de Azucar National Park, in the Guanillos valley, as Kinze’s Copiapoa tigriloensis n.n. in the Tigrillo Valley and in a valley at the foot of what Rudolf Schulz called ‘Confusion Hill’ – where the plants are intermediates between C. longistaminea and C. grandiflora.
On the opposite side of the bay, between some very dark, slate-like rocks Pablo gave us a brief presentation of where he had foud a plant that had later been described by Adrianna Hoffmann as Eriosyce odieri subspecies weisseri. We all had a good look around and Angie found the most plausable candidate, although after Pablo had given his presentation, he had to admit that the plant in question was most likely the offset of a Copiapoa taltalensis / rupestris burried in the sand, but in terms of size was just right.
Not much farther along, past Rudolf’s Secret Valley, we reached Ritter’s Type Locality of Copiapoa cinerea subspecies columna-alba. We had not brought along the original photograph in Kakteen in SuedAmerika, but we still grouped around the Eulychnia saint-pieana in the original photo, and still there today, and photographed the columna-alba plants, both dead and alive, that were still here today.
As time was moving on, we took the track along the northern border with the Pan de Azucar National Park to Ruta 5 and arrived tired but happy for a meal at Hosteria Taltal – Club Taltal had for some reason not opened.