The Veredas Expedition: part 2

From: Fernando Rivadavia Lopes (
Date: Wed Jun 23 1999 - 15:08:13 PDT

Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 15:08:13 PDT
From: Fernando Rivadavia Lopes <>
Message-Id: <aabcdefg2295$foo@default>
Subject: The Veredas Expedition: part 2

To all,

       Before anything else, sorry for the delay! It's been nearly 2 months
since I returned from this trip and over a week I believe since I wrote the
first part to teh listserv. I wanted to get through with the Drosera today
and not extend this into too many chapters, but unfortunately I had to stop
where I did 'cause soon I have to leave to go wait in line for the first
screening of the new Star Wars here in Brazil, tonight. Can't wait!!!
Anyways, here it goes, hope you'll all enjoy it!

        So many CP species were seen on this last trip of mine, that I think it
would be clearer if I described them one at a time, instead of describing
what I saw at each place. Otherwise, it would be difficult to string it all
together especially with so many complicated names of different places.
Let's start with the Drosera.

        The prize of "rarest Drosera species" on this trip is divided between
D.sp."Emas" and D.colombiana. The former was only seen at the site where I
orginially discovered it in 1991 at the Emas National Park, where it is
still abundant in a small area by a river, growing together with D.communis,
and several Utrics + Genlisea. All the D.sp."Emas" had very short stems and
no mature flower scapes were present, leading me to believe that a fire had
swept the site a few months earlier. I was really surprised I didn't find
more of this taxon anywhere else along the trip, since it is especially
common in the northern part of Goias and has been found further W in Mato
Grosso. I even tried to find a site where it was collected in the 60's in
the Distrito Federal, but the area had become a bit overpopulated since then
and I could find no D.sp."Emas", although I did see lots of D.communis and
several Utrics.

        D.colombiana is a small flat-rosetted species which resembles D.brevifolia.
I was hoping to find many sites with this taxon in Goias since it seems to
be very variable in Brazil and I wanted to get a clearer picture of its
taxonomy. It is rather common on the Chapada dos Guimaraes, Mato Grosso
state, western Brazil, and the only other place where I'd seen it was in N
Goias at the Chapada dos Veadeiros. Well unfortunately I only saw it at one
site in central Goias where plants had long finished flowering. This taxon
survives the winter (dry season) as dormant roots and it often occupies
drier habitats than most other native Drosera. So I guess to study
D.colombiana taxonomy in Brazil, I'd have to drive around the countryside in
December or January to catch it in flower.

        Another rare Drosera on this trip was D.montana var.montana,
        which I only
saw at four sites, one in Bras\355lia, two in central Goi\341s (the
W-most I'd ever seen for this species), and another in E Goias. This
taxon is one of the most widespread in Brazil and I still do not know
how far its range extends W and N. I've never seen it in Mato Grosso,
but I suspect it may grow there as I've seen herbarium of what appears
to be this taxon from E Bolivia. Like D.colombiana, this taxon occurs
in rather dry habitats and also goes dormant during the winter.
Therefore, it would probably also be best to study this taxon a little
earlier in the year.

        The most common species on this trip was D.communis, which is also the most
common and widespread species of this genus in S.America. And as one would
expect, it is especially variable. This perennial is usually found among
grasses in boggy areas around permanent water. Therefore any buriti palm
seen from the road is almost a guaranteed sign that that vereda will have
D.communis. This species varies in relation to flower colors and overall
size of the leaves. Flower colors appear to be determined more by
ecologically factors than anything else and may vary between lilac and

        Most of the D.communis seen on this trip were of the typical form and with
white flowers. The stranger forms found were all lilac-flowered, but not all
of the lilac-flowered forms were atypical. Although D.communis usually has
semi-erect rosettes, at two sites (one in SW Goias the other in SW Minas
Gerais) I found lilac-flowered plants which had flatter rosettes which were
also rather small in diameter and were of a pinkish or light wine-red shade
(D.communis is more often green to blood-red). These definitely need futher

        At another site in SW Goias, shortly after sunrise, I stumbled on a
D.communis site packed with flowering plants in a small area. The petals
were white and just beginning to open. The strange thing here was the
robustness of the inflorescences. Usually this species has unbranched scapes
with only a few flowers each, although I'd seen as many as 11 before. Well
at this site the norm seemed to be high numbers of flowers. I counted a few
with 10 or more, one reaching 13! In fact, several even had bifurcated
inflorescences, something I'd never seen before for this species. BTW, the
13-flowered specimen was not bifurcated.

        Furthermore, at this same site I saw for the first time ever D.communis
scapes with more than one flower open at the same time. Several plants had 2
flowers and one (which was not bifurcated) had 3! I'd previously seen 2 open
flowers on species such as D.chrysolepis, D.graminifolia, D.montana
var.tomentosa, and D.villosa, or even more on forked inflorescences of these
same species, but I don't remember ever seeing 3 open flowers on an
unbranched scape of any native Drosera. Hopefully this characteristic will
maintain true in cultivation...

        At one site in central Goias, I found what appeared to be 2 forms of
D.communis growing in separate habitats. Typical plants of a blood-red color
and with white flowers were found in humid to wet soil. Then at the center
of that vereda seepage, at the base of buriti palms, there were numerous all
green specimens growing tightly packed and submerged in water. Now I've
learned to be suspicious of Drosera growing underwater, since this kind of
habit usually results in very odd plants, if not totally extraordinary.
Unfortunately none of these aquatic specimens were in flower but I had a
strong feeling that maybe it wasn't just habitat which made them different
here. I'll have to go back there someday and hope to catch them in flower,
but I suspect they may be the D.sp."green giant" which is similar to
D.communis and is common on coastal highlands of S and SE Brazil.

        I also found a new taxon I call D.sp."flat red". I'd first discovered this
D.communis-complex taxon several years ago at the Chapada dos Guimar\343es,
Mato Grosso state, western Brazil, together with my friend Macors Cardoso.
It has large, flat, wine-red colored rosettes, with numerous leaves, long
petioles, and also long flower scapes with purplish-lilac flowers. In Mato
Grosso we only saw it at a few sites, always alongside the locally much more
common D.communis var.alba (a pygmy form of this species). I saw this
D.sp."flat-red" at three sites in central and SW Goi\341s. Typical D.communis
was always present nearby in wetter ground and although some plants of each
taxon were observed side-by-side, there were no signs of hybridization (as
in Mato Grosso).

        In the next "chapter" of the 'Veredas Expedition' you'll read
        about the
mystery giant Drosera growing on the tepuy-like hill and also, all you
ever wanted to know (but was always afraid to ask) about the
D.hirtella\226complex! Coming soon...

All the Best,

Fernando Rivadavia
Sao Paulo, Brazil

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