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Although I have described all (most) of our accommodation as very comfortable, with John and I enjoying our own individual en-suite facilities, the main difference with other hot places that I had visited when it was hot was the lack of air-conditioning. It made me realise how elsewhere we would lower our core temperature in air-conditioned environments before venturing out into the heat to photograph our plants. Although our chalets here, on Coco Beach were right on the beach, with at times a nice cooling breeze making doors slam, this morning there was no breeze when Christophe suggested taking a walk to some different caudiciform plants. It was a level path, taking about 60 minutes each way. Let’s give it a go – it was always possible to abort the walk if things got too hot.

I amazed myself at some of the plants that I photographed – certainly not the huge photogenic plants seen elsewhere. May be Wiebe Bosma, my Asclepiad expert friend in the Netherlands can confirm names. First, Christophe became quite excited about what looked tome to be bunch of dead sticks that he explained was an Asclepiad although I wrote down (and then lost) the name given. Christophe is guiding some more Brits around Madagascar as I write these catch-up entries, so is unable to help until his return.

Asclepiad sp ?

Asclepiad sp ?

I should explain that the greenish coloured stems had been covered by rocks when this plant had been discovered by Christophe and was covered over again once the images were taken.

Plant #2 for Wiebe was found by Nadia.

Asclepiad sp ?

Asclepiad sp ?

Shame that we were perhaps a day too early for the bud on the right of the picture to open. Good luck Wiebe!

Lizard sp.

Lizard sp.

This lizard is also waiting for an ID. It is one of many that crossed our camera lenses.

Cyphostema elephantopus

Cyphostema elephantopus

Next we found Christophe wipe away a tear as he found the decaying remains of an old friend, a Cyphostema elephantopus. He is pictured on page 114 of the ‘Guide to the succulents plants of SW Madagascar’ by Andry Petignat with this plant in happier days. It serves as a reminder to us as we like to visit ‘old friends’, such as Smiler, in the Atacama Desert, that one day we may find that when re-visit our friends that they may be in declining health, or worse. Fortunately Christophe and Nadia knew of some more plants of this species growing near by, but sadly, these plants too looked as if they had passed their best-by date. They seemed to be of similar age. Had they simply reached the end of their natural life span or was there a common reason for their decline, such as an increasingly dry (or wet?) climate?

At the foot of one of the Cyphostema I was happy to find an Orchid that looks to be the same species that grows on Angie’s windowsill in Wiltshire. Now if only she could remember where she had acquired that plant ….

Oeceoclades spathulifera

Oeceoclades spathulifera

There are a number of similar and closely related species but the differences between them are in the flower and here, none were found. It was difficult to get a good picture of the orchid as it prefers to grow in the shade underneath shrubs.

Once again, the car battery failed to turn over the starter motor and we were stuck until Christophe had tracked down the muscular owner of the property where we had parked, to help us to push start the car back into life.

There was a cooling breeze when we returned to our chalets and we could download our images and scribble down rough notes once the electricity came on, late afternoon.


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