Friday 23 November 2018 – Morro do Chapeu to Mucuge
We were ready in good time for today’s 395 km journey south. All were in good spirit, until I spotted the puncture in one of Alain’s Duster tyres. As usual there were more people than needed to change the tyre. Dusters appear to pack only an emergency tyre, a polo mint like tyre, good for a maximum speed of 86 kmph. Fortunately there was a tyre repair stop just a few km up the road, where the tyre was soon fixed.
In 2002 Marlon took a picture of a Cereus jamacaru that he called ‘Giant’. In 2006, he showed the plant to Nigel Taylor and Daniela Zappi, who also took its picture and used it for the inside cover of their book Cacti of North East Brazil, suggesting that this was probably the biggest individual of Cereus jamacaru. In 2009, Cliff and I also took its picture and today, probably even larger than on previous occasions, we took its picture again.
‘Giant’ – probably the largest recorded Cereus jamacaru.
Next stop was again for the cactus stop where we had found most cactus and succulent plant taxa in one spot, for Marlon to show us the Pilosocereus gounellei with the longest spines that he had seen.
S3707 was for Discocactus bahiensis. This plant remains quite small but has spination that is almost second to none. It competes for that title with Gymnocalycium spegazzinii from north eastern Argentina that, in cultivation, is a lot easier to grow. Like most cacti from this area, in our collections in Europe, it should be kept at above 15 C.
The plants at this spot are tough individuals as they have chosen (?) to live in the middle of a track. Although we saw no other cars, the track looks in regular use, which means that cars drive right over them without ill effect!
Melocactus glaucescens was also here. This is said to be very rare, only known from four small sites in the Chapada Diamantina, but we were perhaps suffering from Melo overflow after seeing so many M. azureus yesterday. S3708 was for a Stephanocereus leucostele right alongside the main road. No need for long hikes – once again it was a hot day. I took its picture from the car while the others needed to stretch their legs. As I was checking the image on the camera’s monitor screen, an owl landed on the post right next to the car!
Our final stop of the day was at the Cemitério Santa Isabel in the town of Mucugé. The large monuments of this Byzantine cemetery were as brightly whitewashed as on previous visits. We made our way to the small chapel at the back of the cemetery where we still saw a few Arrojadoa bahiensis, all out of reach from collectors’ hands. I love my 300 mm zoom lens!
We found very reasonably priced accommodation in Barra da Estiva so that again we had a room with toilet and shower each.