Sunday, 22 March 2009 – North east of Ciudad Chihuahua
We headed out of Chihuahua on MEX 16, the main highway to Ojinaga and the border with the USA in Presidio, Texas. No, we were not going back to the States until tomorrow, but there were some good plant locations, but no towns that could offer accommodation between here and there, so we decided to do the route near Chihuahua in some detail, so that tomorrow we could run close to the border and do some more cactus stops nearer Ojinaga, as we want to cross the border at least by 16:00 hours – we all know what fun and full of surprises such crossings can be.
Today’s first Stop (S1374) was along MEX 16, as we saw some cacti along the roadside as we drove by at 110 km p.h. (70 mph). Good spot! Checking out the area on foot, we found Agave lechuguilia, Coryphantha sp., Echinocereus dasyacanthus – including many plants in advanced bud and eventually one plant actually with a yellow flower, wide open, E. enneacanthus, Escobaria sp. (E. tuberculosa?), Fouquieria splendens, Mammilaria pottsii, Opuntia sp. #1, a small Opuntioid that looks like a Tephrocactus, but obviously is not, Sclerocactus uncinatus ssp wrightii (?) the Resurrection Plant, Selaginella lepidophylla and Yucca sp. – incredible diversity of cactus flora! (Yes, I know that there are non-cactoid plants in that list as well).
S1375 was on the track to Presa Luis L. Leon, a.k.a. El Granero, a lake created by a dam built in the Rio Conchos to create a lake, the Presa. The stop was prompted by Eunice spotting a magenta flower while driving, Thelocactus bicolor in flower – dozens of plants. We also found: Agave lechuguilia, Coryphantha sp. – different from the one found at the previous stop as well as C. runyoni, Echinocactus horizonthalonius, Echinocereus dasyacanthus – more plants in flower, but with a range of flower colours from yellow to magenta, E. enneacanthus, Fouquieria splendens, Mammilaria pottsii – in flower, Opuntia sp. #1, the small Tephrocactus like Opuntioid and Yucca sp.
It is appropriate here to mention S1378 here, a stop made on the way back from the Presa, just 300 m from S1375, but on flat terrain rather than on the rocky outcrop. We found: Agave lechuguilia, Echinocereus dasyacanthus, E. enneacanthus, Fouquieria splendens, Opuntia sp. #1 and the small Tephrocactus like Opuntioid, Thelocactus bicolor, and Yucca sp.
S1376 was near the lake, with a 30 m deep canyon leading to the lake. A few more rain storms is sure to wash sections of the road away. We stopped to take scenery shots but also found E. enneacanthus, Fouquieria splendens, Opuntia sp. #1 & #2.
S1377 was yet closer to the lake and again it was Eunice who spotted a large clump of yet another different looking Coryphantha sp. It was hot (around 31 C ( 87 F) and we did not really want to go on for another stroll in the desert, but needs must, so we also found E. dasyacantus, Echinocactus horizonthalonius, Echinocereus enneacanthus, Fouquieria splendens, M. lasiacantha (in flower), M. pottsii, Tephro-like opuntioid, Yucca sp.
From here we turned round and went back along the track & road that we came. S1378 is already covered earlier. S1379 near El Uno was for exceptionally large clumps of E. enneacanthus, in bud. I about a week’s time, this area will be awash with cactus in flower. Other cacti found were a ‘blue’ Agave sp. – planted or natural? – a different Coryphantha, with large tubercles and long spines, or was it a Thelocactus sp.? E. horizonthalonius, E. enneacanthus, and Sclerocactus uncinatus ssp wrightii.
Apologies to the non-cactophiles in the audience, but the species list of plants seen today is impressive and probably matches any habitat that we’ve seen in the last 5 months for diversity.
Life is good, even after some 5 months on the road!
Tomorrow we head for Texas.