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Archive for February 24, 2017

Friday 24 February – Huajuapan to Tehuacan

Another day, another episode of the Ferocactus Fairy-tales.

After the now customary ‘pictures around the hotel stop’ (S3608) we headed to the first Ferocactus stop (S3609 = AB674) for Ferocactus latispinus. This was christened the ‘dead fox stop’ as a decaying animal added its own aroma to where we had parked the car. To Alain, this was a disappointment as we struggled to find the Feros that he remembers as being abundant here last time. Plenty of evidence of grazing by cows and goats, provided by their droppings plus a few dead Feros, kicked out and left head down-roots up to die. At the edge of the area Chris found a few plants alive and in tact.

Excited, we headed for the next stop along MEX125, (S3610 = AB675) which Alain reported as a site for F. macrodiscus. We soon stumbled across the first Fero, in good health, but identified as F. latispinus. As was the next one and the one after that ….. In fact, no F. macrodiscus were found here, not even after Alain was approached by Jehova witnesses waiting at the nearby bus stop! There were also some nice Mammillaria here. Should I hazard a guess? Mammillaria dixanthocentron? Mainly white spined plants with variable spine length. I’ll show the images at the Mammillaria Society AGM in a few months time for expert opinions.

These completed the planned Ferocactus stops for today, as we headed to our comfortable hotel in Tehuacan where we spend the next three nights. Excepts that Chris spotted a large clump of Ferocactus robustus along the side of the road. A quick U-turn and note books marked up for S3611. But what was this? In a relatively small area, we found not only F robustus, but also F. latispinus and F. recurvus / greenwoodii! Jonathan argued that we must have crossed the border into the State of Puebla, as robustus does not grow in the State of Oaxaca. Confused by such a diversity of Feros, we stopped at the next Pemex station for ice creams to cool down over excited brains. Which State are we in? Jonathan asked. No less an authority than the girl serving behind the refreshments counter can now be credited as the person confirming that we were still in Oaxaca State, so that the distribution of F. robustus can now be extended to that State. A cheer for the girl went up that had other members of staff run in to see what the excitement was about.

We soon crossed the official state line, marked with the usual arches, and stopped at a view point (S3612) to take pictures of the tall ceroids with cephalia along the side of the road. As we walked back to take the pictures we also spotted more Mammillaria – very photogenic on the road cutting. A police car passed by and slowed down. When we returned to our car, the police car was in front of us with four officers, armed to the teeth waiting. Good afternoon, everything OK? We explained that we were tourists from Europe, enjoying the amazing scenery. It was all smiles this time. Alain ase3d if he could take the officers picture to illustrate how to protect cacti with automatic weapons and hand guns. No, than you they said, and quickly got into their car. Of course, the whole scene was captured on the dashcam 🙂


Friday 24 February – …. to Tehuacan Post Script

In my rush to join the others for breakfast, I failed to report on the last stop of the day, near Zapotitlan. Again, it was Chris, from the backseat, who spotted a large Ferocactus up a track off the side of the road. Alain was driving, watching out for the other traffic, the topez lying in ambush to catch us out and the dogs that paraded the side of the road as potential mobile topez speed regulators, as they have a tendency to cross the road any time they like. I was co-pilot and co-topez spotter, more to avoid the shooting pain in my back as we bumped over them a bit too hard than out of concern for the car’s suspension system.

So, S3613 was identified as F. latispinus, but what do we know, with our brains by know scrambled into a variable Fero cocktail. The plant was some 60 cm tall but seems to be have been the parent of many others as there were a large number of seedlings around.

Nice stop to finish the day.