The Veredas Expedition: FINAL part

From: Fernando Rivadavia Lopes (
Date: Mon Jul 05 1999 - 23:10:43 PDT

Date: Mon, 05 Jul 1999 23:10:43 PDT
From: Fernando Rivadavia Lopes <>
Message-Id: <aabcdefg2476$foo@default>
Subject: The Veredas Expedition:  FINAL part

To all,

       I've got to prepare for yet another CP trip, so I decided to send the
last chapter in now since tomorrow I may be too busy.


        One of the Utrics which I was happiest to find on this trip was the minute
jewel, U.costata. This is also a relatively new species, described by Taylor
in 1986 based on a few widespread and incomplete specimens. U.costata is
only known from the type collection in Venezuela and Mato Grosso, Para, and
Roraima states in Brazil. Taylor includes this species in sect.Aranella,
together with U.simulans, U.blanchetti, U.laciniata, and others, but I
really see no similarity whatsoever between these and U.costata. I had been
lucky enough to find this purplish-pink flowered species at the Chapada dos
Guimaraes in Mato Grosso. Although I visited this area five times and was
helped by my friend Marcos Cardoso who lives in the nearby city of Cuiaba,
we couldn't find any other sited with this species. This was very
unfortunate because the one site we had found was a tiny patch of sand at a
very touristy part of those highlands, the local "beach". Too many people
trampled by there and the last two times or so that I went there, we
couldn't find any signs of U.costata. Anyways, I found U.costata again, this
time in SW Goias, the first collection for this state. And this time it was
very abundant in sandy soil all around seepages surrounding a hill outside
the city of Jatai.

        Last but certainly not least, come the closely related rheophytic
U.neottioides and U.oliveriana. The former I've seen countless times,
growing in cold mountains streams, over bare rocks submerged in (usually)
fast flowing water. On this trip I only saw U.neottioides on the Serra
Dourada in central Goi\341s growing on humid rocks of dry streambeds, as well
as near the city of Cristalina in E Goias growing not only on bare rock, but
also in sand and gravel in a nearly dry streambed. The further W you go, it
seems the more likely that the U.neottioides habitats will dry up and force
this species to grow as an annual.

        While collecting the stiff scapes with cream-white flowers, I suddenly
remembered that colorless flowers are typically pollinated by nocturnal
creatures, which don't care about colors and are instead attracted by strong
sweet odors. I also remembered how my friend Robert Gibson had mentioned in
his recent mails to me about a few Australian CPs with sweetly-scented
flowers and asked me if I'd ever noticed this in any Brazilian species.
Except for a few larger Drosera, I don't think I'd ever really stopped to
sniff many CP flowers in Brazil. Well, this time I did remember and to my
surprise \226 considering that this was already such a familiar species to me
-- there was indeed a strong sickly-sweet odor!

        As for U.oliveriana, I'd been after it for several year now. Taylor claims
this species is more frequent in the Guyana Highlands. Well, he actually
says it's restricted to these highlands, but then contradicts himself and
says it has been collected in Brazil in the states of Para, Rondonia, and
Goias, all of which are far from tepuy-land. The habitat is said to be the
same as that of U.neottioides: over rocks in swift flowing water. Also the
flowers of these two species are depicted by Taylor as being the same in
shape. The main difference between U.neottioides and U.oliveriana is in the
leaf shape. Those of the latter are small and obovate, nothing unusual,
while those of the former are long and feather-shaped, often (and uniquely
in the genus) attached to the flower scapes. Also, U.oliveriana has longer
pedicels and usually fewer flowers per scape.

        After so many years of searching, I finally found U.oliveriana in the
extreme SW of Goias, together with the giant D.sessilifolia and yellow
U.amethystina at the fantastic small tepuy called Pedra Aparada. Unlike
U.neottioides, U.oliveriana was growing on wet rocks, not stream beds. The
water came from surrounding seepages, but only in one place was it clearly
flowing over the rock. But even at this place, where a thin layer of water
flowed slowly over the rock, U.oliveriana was only present on the wet rocks
NEXT to the flowing water and not IN it. Considering that both
D.sessilifolia and the yellow U.amethystina are annuals, it appears to me
that the rocks dry up in the winter and that U.oliveriana is also an annual.

        As for the flowers of U.oliveriana in relation to those of U.neottioides, I
have several comments. First of all, I found those of U.oliveriana to also
be sweetly-scented. Second, the flower shape and color is somewhat different
from those of U.neottioides. The three lobes of the lower lip of
U.oliveriana flowers were longer and wider than those of U.neottioides.
While Taylor claims that the flowers of U.neottioides have a yellow spot at
the base of the lower lip, I believe this is a mistake since I have never
seen this in any of the countless locations I've found this species at. They
are instead always entirely a creamy-white color. Those of U.oliveriana were
a slightly more yellowish shade.

        While the traps of U.neottioides are few and nearly invisible, those of
U.oliveriana were conspicuous and reddish in color, reminding me of
U.olivacea and U.biovularioides. In fact, the flowers are also small and
similar in color. I wish I'd remembered to sniff these as well to know if
they're secnted or not. Maybe they're even related, maybe Taylor was wrong
to place the latter two among other aquatic Utric species.... Ecologically,
one could imagine U.oliveriana as an intermediate between rheophytic
U.neottioides and the aquatic U.olivacea and U.biovularioides. From a
species inhabiting shallow muddy seepages (like the latter two taxa),
another species could have evolved to grow on wet rocks jutting inbetween
the boggy patches of soil (similar to U.oliveriana), and then from that one
another species could evolve to inhabit faster flowing water over rocks in
nearby streams (like U.neottioides). Or maybe this hypothetical evolutionary
path could have happened the other way around...

        Well, that's it! Sorry for all the probable spelling errors and lack of
sense since I didn't have time to proofread anything. I'll talk about my
next trip in the next mail, juts so it won't get confused with the above

Take Care,

Fernando Rivadavia
Sao Paulo, Brazil

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