Neblina Expedition part 5

From: Fernando Rivadavia Lopes (
Date: Sat Feb 27 1999 - 15:25:41 PST

Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 15:25:41 PST
From: "Fernando Rivadavia Lopes" <>
Message-Id: <aabcdefg609$foo@default>
Subject: Neblina Expedition part 5


        As soon as we arrived in Sta Elena, Gert and I began asking around for
info on how to reach Mt.Roraima. We tried everything, even helicopter
and plane alternatives, but soon realized in mutual despair that we
simply wouldn\222t have the time to climb Mt.Roraima. It would just have to
wait for a future trip. So we decided to explore the Gran Sabana, which
should have its share of interesting CPs and fantastic views. In the end
the CPs we found surpassed our wildest expectations, but the views were
unfortunately not so good because it was the rainy season and therefore
always very cloudy. It was very frustrating for me to not even be able
to glimpse Mt.Roraima, but Gert on the other hand was happy with this
since it was the 2nd time he\222d missed the chance to climb Mt.Roraima and
thus prefered not to see it at all and therefore hopefully not think
about it too much.
        We 1st took a car from Sta Elena for a morning drive for around 45km N
along the road to Caracas. We stopped at the Quebrada de Jaspe waterfall
where we found lots of nice D.roraimae (uninterestingly green plants,
but w/flowers), G.repens, U.amethystina (with tiny white flowers),
U.pusilla, and U.subulata. On the way back to Sta Elena we stopped at a
buriti bog and found the beautiful and rare aquatic U.cucullata with its
striking purple-pink flowers, U.hispida, and an unidentified affixed
aquatic Utric with yellow flowers.
        At noon we took a 45 min flight to a town called Kavanayen, just S of
Ptari Tepuy. It was the smallest plane I'd ever been on, with seats for
only 6 people, and it landed on a short dirt track -- a bit scary I'll
admit! The views were great, but could've been better if it weren't for
all the clouds. Kavanayen is a cute Indian village where all the houses
are built from stone, an influence of the Spanish missionaries living
there, who also built their mission of stone. Except for the
missionaries, the locals were all surprisingly friendly, always greeting
us with "Buenos dias", "Buenas tardes", and "Buenas noches", and the
children were always happy and smiling. It was my first time back in
Venezuela since I lived there as 15 years ago, so I had a great time
eating and drinking things I remembered from my childhood.
        We saw a few Utrics as we walked from the airstrip into Kavanayen, but
decided to first drop off our heavy bags at the mission (the only hotel)
before stopping to look for plants. That done, we headed in the
direction of an interesting area we'd seen from the plane, but we
weren't even out of the village yet when we began finding CPs by the
boatload. We 1st stumbled on a grassy/boggy area full of B.reducta,
B.hectioides, D.roraimae, D.kaieteurensis, U.simulans, U.longeciliata,
U.juncea, U.amethystina \223white fl.\224, and U.adpressa(?). We spent a long
time at this spot before we finally moved on, then walked only around
200m before we found another new CP: D.arenicola var.arenicola. We hiked
around until the end of the afternoon, but I think the only other CP we
found was G.filiformis. No Heliamphora.
        The next day we got a car to take us to a waterfall called Aponwao
around 45km away, at a place called Liworiwo. Our first stop just
outside Kavanayen, at a grassy/boggy area by a river turned up
D.communis, U.triloba, U.pusilla, U.trichophylla(?), U.hispida, and the
large affixed aquatic U.erectiflora, each of its long scapes covered
with numerous calyx lobes of spent flowers.
        The second stop, a seepage with lots of Stegolepis sp., turned up
plenty of deep-red D.roraimae and D.kaieteurensis, U.cucullata, U.nana
w/the largest flowers I've ever seen, and just as we were leaving we
found what may be D.cayenensis. I was surprised at how similar this
species was to D.kaieteurensis. Both had about the same shape and size
of leaves and flowering parts. The difference was that D.cayenensis was
more pinkish (D.kaieteurensis deep wine-red), prefered shadier habitats
(D.k. under full sun), and the scapes were hairy (D.k. glabrous). They
even shared a common and unusual characteristic I'd never seen before:
the fruit, when dry, opens wide while still remaining attached at the
base. The seeds are clearly visible sitting inside the wide-open carpel
walls, resembling a nest full of eggs. This might be an adaptation for
seed dispersal by the impact of rain drops and not by the wind as seems
to be the case with other Drosera spp.
        The next stop turned up a few CPs by a river, but only U.pubescens was
new. We saw plenty of this species in flower at the following stop, the
shady Quebrada Perupo waterfall. The flowers were a delicate
purple-lilac. Also plentiful at this waterfall was U.calycifida with
dark-green leaves and red veins, but no flowers.
        Driving on, we spotted not far from the road a group of short tree
ferns in a low area of a large grassy and decided to explore. Just
behind the ferns it became boggy and we immediately found lots of large
D.roraimae in flower and loaded with seeds. There was also plenty of
G.repens and a few common Utrics. All of a sudden, we stumbled on a
large submerged rosette with giant wine-red leaves. G.guianensis! The
leaves were HUGE, several cm long, wavy like seaweed. I couldn't believe
it but the traps were also huge, as big as -- if not bigger than --
those of the giant G.uncinata! Amazing!
        We began finding more G.guianensis as we moved around, but only with
dead scapes, no flowers. Heading towards wetter ground, we found some
with young scapes, then some with seed pods (SEEDS!!!), then a detached
flower floating in the water, then a semi-open flower, and finally fully
open flowers. BEAUTIFUL! They were a dark purple-blue with a tiny
dull-yellow bit on the lower lip. We also found some D.intermedia
growing in the wettest spots, some plants enormous, with really long
        After a long stretch of road without stops, while passing by a village,
I caught a yellow glimpse out of the corner of my eye. CATOPSIS! It was
on a dead tree branch, apparently garbage left over from firewood. A
little further along the road we saw another one, this time on a small
tree, and stopped to photograph it. But soon we were caught up with all
the Utrics growing around there: U.simulans, U.longeciliata,
U.amethystina \223white fl.\224, U.adpressa(?), U.lloydii(?), as well as
G.filiformis and D.kaieteurensis. There was also what seemed to be a
pygmy form of U.tricolor, but which might've been a small purplish form
of U.amethystina. I have quite a bit of experience with these two
species and although I\222ve never seen such small U.tricolor nor does
Taylor mention this species for the state of Bolivar in Venezuela.
Around Liworiwo we found a few Catopsis berteroniana and were even able
to collect some seeds.
        That day we stopped so much along the way to the waterfall that it was
already nearly 5pm by the time we finally arrived there. And they were
charging too much for the short boat ride downriver to the falls so we
didn't even go see it. We thought of walking there, but to simply cross
the river to the trail, the boat fee was exorbitant. So we got back in
the car and stopped by a few more places to see plants on the way back,
arriving in Kavanayen after sunset.


Fernando Rivadavia
Sao Paulo, Brazil

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