Paul Temple (
Thu, 28 Jul 94 19:24:14 +0100

+---------------------------+ TM From: Paul Temple
| | | | | | | | Dept: Digital
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+---------------------------+ Easynet: fangio::temple_p

Hi all.

Guess a written report on my latest 2 week holiday may bore some to
death but, then again, some might be interested. So here goes....

In early July (8th) I set out for a Pinguicula hunt in Europe. I say
Europe because the intention was to cover the following areas (aplogies
in advance for errors in geography but enough info will be given to
help those using an atlas):

Jura Mountains (home of P. grandiflora pallida)
Alps - Southern Savoie (home of P. grandiflora rosea)
Sierra de Devada (home of P. nevadensis)
Sierra de Cazorla (home of P. valisneriifolia)
Haute Pyrenees, France -(home of P grandiflora, P. alpina, P. vulgaris)
Haute Pyrenees, Spain - (home of P. longifolia longifolia).

I left following work at 5.30 p.m. and arrived in the high Jura's
(central eastern France) at 5.30 p.m. the next day, all night driving!
Unfortunately, despite walking the area I never found P. grandiflora
pallida. The cause was exhaustion. But the lesson is that P.
grandiflora pallida grows ONLY on the highest peak and basically at,
near or above the summer snow line. The locality is limited to the
highest peak and nowhere else, just about on the French/Swiss border.

Another drive took me to areas of Switzerland where P. grandiflora was
listed but these were relatively inaccessible by car so I drove on
South to the Southernm Alps, known as the savoie region. The nearest
town to pinpoint is Goncelin (pronounced Gone-se-lan), a little north
of Grenoble (Gren-oh-bluh). Here the mountains rise very steeply again
to heights of permanent snow. Thwe magic height appears to be about
2000m (thats about 6000ft). It took all day to get don there and into
the mountains leaving little time to search. The local flora experts
hadn't heard of the plant either by latin or French names (Grazettes -
but don't pronounce the "s") so I described the area I was looking for;
very damp, possibly a rock seep (water running constantly over or from
vertical rock). They described the areas nearest to lakes so I set
out. By the time I'd found the right path it was nearing 9 p.m., too
late to start a search, so I started back. For those that don't go
plant hunting, you might be surprised to know that once on the hunt,
there's an image burnt into the brain which stays just behind your
attention level ready to snap into action. So, driving back down this
path I spotted a tiny flash of ghreen. There they were, about 2-300 P.
grandiflora rosea. None in flower but all in seed (so flowering must
be about end of May to early June). They mostly grew on a vertical
seep, not of rock but of VERY stony ground full of rotting grasses
decaying in an oxygen poor situation. Basically it was a chalk or
calcareous rock mixed with
what would become peat (given time). Very few grew on the flat ground
below despite the presence of a tiny stream, and those that did grow on
the fat were smaller, mostly. This was just a single colony and I
believe they were from seed washed down from above. Anyone with time
should visit in very early June and get abovbe the seerp walking
towards the lakes. This location was Jeu de Paumes (Jeu as in meaSUre
and Paumes as in Pom) but please, there's no need to rush there and
uproot the colony!!!

Energised by a successful find I rushed to a hotel for the night
(Ceppes with a raspberry coulis, followed by duck and all wahed down
with a saucy little white wine all helped my revival). Next day I set
out on what proved to be two days non stop drive to Sierra Nevada (in
South East Spain). By now the temperature was a contant 40 degrees
C,(for those still suffering Farenheight, 40C equals very hot!).
Dripping in perspiration, I topped at the relatively low sites listed
for P. nevadensis but in general, these proved either inaccessible or
empty. However, a 4 hour drive up the mountain and another two hours
accross the top got me to Lago de Zaragoza (Lake Zaragoza). This
proved to be a puddle but one of only two such puddles visible anywhere
on the mountain, both about 30 feet below the July snow line. Sure
enough, P. nevadensis was there but I found only 5 clumps in the whole
area. This is a plant that is doomed! Unless the local university
start actively splitting and replanting the cumps, this species will
die out, especially as wild goats freely graze the area!!! Still early
July, the plants were just coming into flower. Unlike many Pings, the
flower stalks are very short, an adaptation of most high mountain
plants. As the stalks are short, pollinating insects are near enough
the leaves to get trapped so the flowers are larger than normal, to
attract larger flies less likeley to get stuck to the leaves! The
flower buds are rose coloured but the flowers are white with light
blue. It took 30 minutes to climb back from the puddle to the car.

Another 12 hour drive took me to Sierra de Cazorla. This is the home
of P. valisneriifolia. The park (like sierra nevada) is protected and
there are almost no paths to walk. I walked one and some two hours
(why is always uphill, even on the way back?) later, reached a narrow
rock gully with a river between it. Both vertical rock walls were
literraly covered in pings. The rock was calcareous again and although
it felt dry it was in fact permanently wet inside (a small scratch
revealed this). A read in a local publication that P. vallisneriifolia
flowers use the flower stalk to twine around ferns to help hold on.
This prehensile stalk activity was/is in my opinion untrue as I could
not find any such stalks wrapped around ferns. But I did find
something else. P vallisneriifolia was in seed at the time (so it
flowers in May) but it's always shown as blue flowred. I searched in
the hope of finding one late bloom and, as luck would have it, found
one. It was pure white. A wonderful find (and it's still there -
please leave it if you see it!). I left the site (having literally
worn out my climbing boots).

Two more days got me to Gavarnie (Gav-are-knee), the botanical centre
of the Pyrenees in France. I found P. grandiflora on just about every
high muntain in the Pyrenees but no sign of P. alpina or P. vulgaris.
The colours of the flowers (now about July 12th and many Pings in
flower) were far more varied than for plants I've seen cultivated. All
grew on sodden acid soil both slopes and vertical faces.

One more day took me to the Spanish Pyrenees. Another hike, this
time 3 hours) took me to the first bit of mountain above the tree line.
Here I found the first vertical chalk rock face and, you guessed it,
P. longifolia lingifolia all over it on all the verical surfaces
(rarely on the flat). Again, all were in seed except onme latecomer
(so May/early June is best for Flowers).

Well, there we have it. A hodge podge of information but a few gems I
hope. It was 2 weeks of 4500 miles, 5 mountain ranges and total
exhaustion. But it was fun. And I'll always have a few awful photos
to remember it all by.

And then I visited Nature et Paysages; but I'll report on that separately.