Minas Gerais Expeditions: part 3

From: Fernando Rivadavia-Lopes (frl@mtecnetsp.com.br)
Date: Thu Oct 07 1999 - 08:27:55 PDT

Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 12:27:55 -0300
From: "Fernando Rivadavia-Lopes" <frl@mtecnetsp.com.br>
To: cp@opus.hpl.hp.com
Message-Id: <aabcdefg3475$foo@default>
Subject: Minas Gerais Expeditions: part 3


         The next day we decided to head N to the town of Diamantina. We
left before 8am and arrived there around 1pm. Even before entering town to
drop our things off at a hotel, I took everyone out to a nice CP site
nearby, an area discovered by my friend Thomas Carow (Hi Thomas!) over
10 years ago and which I only stumbled upon 2 years ago. For some strange
reason this area is especially rich in CP species.

         It was here that Thomas found a strange Drosera that confounded me
for years. I couldn't identify it from his pictures nor even from the single
plant he had in cultivation. I didn't know if it was a new hybrid or a new
species. And worst of all, I couldn't find it anywhere in the wild nor could
Thomas remember where he'd collected it exactly. The breakthrough finally
occurred in 1997, when I was able to find the spot using a landscape picture
Thomas had taken from the general area where he'd found the plants. The
picture showed the city of Diamantina in the background, so all I had to do
was circle around the city until I found the right angle and distance and
then start walking back and forth with my head to the ground. Sure enough,
there they were! I was with Fabio on that occasion and we had just
discovered the day before a site with this new Drosera a few dozen km
further south.

         This strange new Drosera turned out to be D.montana
var.schwackei --
although I can see no resemblance to D.montana and no reason to include this
beautiful taxon as a variety of D.montana. It turned out to be very common
in that particular area near Diamantina, growing in small scattered
populations in really dry habitats -- once again in fine white sand with
white quartz gravel (it seems like all the recent new Drosera taxa have
popped up in these habitats!).

         When Fabio and I first found D.montana var.schwackei in early March
1997, the plants were just about to open their first pink-lilac flowers --
huge ones in fact. This time all we found in early July were dry scapes and
although I collected all I could find (for taxonomical purposes including),
I was only able to shake out a very small amount of seeds -- but enough to
guarantee that it will be successfully introduced to cultivation finally
(for some reason Thomas' plant has never produced seeds in cultivation).

         We only took a short walk around this area with D.montana
var.schwackei. Other CPs we saw were: D.hirtella var.hirtella, D.montana
var.tomentosa, D.graminifolia "spiralis form", D.sp."Congonhas" (the ones in
Diamantina have HUGE flowers!), D.montana var.schwackei, and G.violacea. We
returned there twice over the following two days to explore some more and it
was amazing how many interesting CPs kept popping up. For example, we went
to check on a D.communis population Id found there in 1997 where the plants
seemed to be very narrow-leaved. This time they appeared to be perfectly
normal, BUT a few steps taken further to one side and I discovered a nice
population of D.sp."Emas" -- a widespread new species, but rare in the
Diamantina area. It was also in this area that Fabio found a few years ago
the N-most U.reniformis population known.

         While walking across a heavily eroded ex-mining spot (which I'd
passed through a few times previously), Fabio took a few steps further to
one side of the trail and stumbled upon a small but fantastic population of
D.villosa growing in wet sand. This species is also rare around Diamantina
and I'd never seen such beautiful rosettes in the region before. The robust
compact rosettes were a beautiful wine-red color, with wide semi-erect
leaves, maybe 7cm in diameter, and there were young inflorescences too. They
looked quite different from the more typical D.villosa found in that region,
which are found along rivers and have fewer, narrower greenish leaves. They
actually resembled more D.graomogolensis, which is only found further north,
but I'm sure this was only because of the odd habitat they were growing in.
Funny enough, if I remember well from his pictures, I think Thomas found
this very same population when he was there.

         Yet with all the CP diversity of this one area near Diamantina,
there is still at least one Drosera which grows there that we still haven't
been able to find. Thomas (once again Thomas -- he was sure lucky on that
trip of his in 1987!) photographed D.sp."stemless chrysolepis" and though
we've searched all over, we still haven't turned up this darned plant. It
could be that it is very rare around Diamantina and has maybe even gone
extinct in that specific area.

To be Continued....

Fernando Rivadavia
Sao Paulo, Brazil

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