Minas Gerais Expeditions: part 2

From: Fernando Rivadavia-Lopes (frl@mtecnetsp.com.br)
Date: Tue Oct 05 1999 - 11:00:25 PDT

Date: Tue, 5 Oct 1999 15:00:25 -0300
From: "Fernando Rivadavia-Lopes" <frl@mtecnetsp.com.br>
To: cp@opus.hpl.hp.com
Message-Id: <aabcdefg3445$foo@default>
Subject: Minas Gerais Expeditions: part 2


         The following day we went to check the only two known sites of
another new Drosera species I call D.sp."Cipo". This is a beautiful plant
which I believe is closely related to D.chysolepis and D.graminifolia,
although the leaf shape and size is more like that of D.villosa. I was
hoping to catch this species in flower to be able to finally begin working
on publishing it \226 but no luck. There are not many specimens at either of
the two neighboring sites and they looked rather ugly. Apparently this
species barely survives the dry season in its unusually dry habitats. The
leaves were barely (or not at all) glandular. There are also D.chrysolepis
and plenty of D.sp."Congonhas" in that area, all growing in fine white sand
mixed with white quartz gravel. It was all very dry and much of it had
already been burned. In fact, wildfires could be seen across the Serra do

         Walking back to the car, I noticed one very green spot which hadn't
been burned. I'd walked by the place tons of times and never payed attention
to it. Highlighted by the blackened landscape all around, the green
vegetation was an obvious sign of water. Sure enough, it turned out to be a
very wet seepage, packed with typical boggy-habitat Serra do Cipo CPs:
D.communis, D.sp."stemless chrysolepis", D.montana var.tomentosa (the form
with scapes densely covered with white hairs), G.aurea, U.nana, and
U.tricolor. Charles was surprised at how strikingly different D.sp."stemless
chrysolepis" were from D.chrysolepis. He had thought, from the nickname,
that it would simply be one of those variants which you could hardly tell
apart from the real thing. Another surprise, for all of us, was that there
were lots of G.aurea in bloom, a really rare and beautiful sight!

         From there we drove back to the hotel in hopes of finding my friend
Fabio Pinheiro, who was supposed to have arrived from Sao Paulo the night
before. He was there alright, waiting for us. His bus had been delayed and
he had gotten stuck in Belo Horizonte for the night. Having already visited
all the important CP sites I know of on the Serra do Cipo, that afternoon we
decided to go explore a new area further north near a town called Santana do
Riacho. I'd seen herbarium of a large D.hirtella-like plant from there,
which I wanted to search for.

         After 30km of winding dirt roads along the base of the Serra do
Cipo, over hilly terrain covered with dry cerrado (Brazilian savanna)
vegetation, we arrivd at S.do Riacho and continued along the road to a
village called Lapinha. The road climbed the Serra do Cipo and brought us
into a huge valley with magnificent scenery like I'd never seen on those
highlands before! To the E was an amazing sandstone wall stretching N-S and
I could glimpse what appeared to be a huge lake (natural or artificial I
don't know) to the S. How could I have been visiting these highlands for so
many years and yet never have discovered this fascinating place?!?!?!

         We explored a bit around a small waterfall at the base of the
sandstone cliffs, but didn't find anything special. Unfortunately the
strange D.hirtella-like plants from the herbarium were apparently an
artifact \226 simply oversized and overhealthy plants \226 since all we
saw were normal D.hirtella var.hirtella in the area where they'd been
collected. Yet the potential of this new area is surely very big and
I'll have to take a VERY good look around there sometime in the future.

         We hung around exploring until sunset, having to drive back in
dark \226 which is not something I like to do on dirt roads. And to
make things worse, we were hit by heavy rains from a large thunderstorm.
Some may think that it shouldn't rain during the so-called "dry" season,
but sometimes even big thunderstorms occur around here. The difference
is that during the dry season rains are only less frequent, while during
the wet season you get these big thunderstorms almost every afternoon!

To be Continued....

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