The last time I stayed in Guanaqueros on 27 November 2013 and before, in 2 January 2009, we visited the seaside resort of Totoralillo, the one south of Coquimbo, rather than the one north of Pichidangui, is was surprised to see the unusual hypanthium on the local Eulychnia. Was this a ‘sport’? But I also found similar plants at Playa Blanca and Tarambola.
So what is so different? An important means of differentiating between different species of Eulychnia lies in their hypanthium. E. acida has a naked hypanthium, covered in scales with just small insignificant bristles emerging from between the scales . E. breviflora on the other hand is covered in long, honey coloured wool. As you can see in the images to the right, the hypanthium of the plants that grow here is a mixture of the two, with the lower part covered in long wool but the upper half of the hypanthium clearly displaying the acida-like scales.
During the 2009 visit, this phenomenon occurred on ripe fruits and the long hairs readily rubbed off. I had not seen E. breviflora fruits in such an advanced stage of ripeness. Is this what happens in all Eulychnia fruits?
But this time, the hypanthium was that of a bud, not a ripe fruit. Flowers appear at the shoulder of the stems (cf. lateral for E. acida and apical on E. breviflora).
‘Should we start thinking of a new taxon?’ Ian and Al asked. I smiled. ‘Not until I have looked up the Latin for ‘1st April”
We went back to the cabanas so that I could roughly plan what we were going to do during the next few days. Suddenly there was a rumbling noise and the cabana began to shake. The fridge started to walk across the room. Then everything was quiet again. We had just experienced a 6.8 strength earthquake! But that is quite a regular occurrence in Chile! We saw no obvious damage – everything that was going to break, fall over or get knocked down already has!
Tomorrow we drive to Los Choros.