Minas Gerais Expeditions: part 6

From: Fernando Rivadavia-Lopes (frl@mtecnetsp.com.br)
Date: Sun Oct 10 1999 - 21:12:52 PDT

Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 01:12:52 -0300
From: "Fernando Rivadavia-Lopes" <frl@mtecnetsp.com.br>
To: cp@opus.hpl.hp.com
Message-Id: <aabcdefg3513$foo@default>
Subject: Minas Gerais Expeditions: part 6


         Fabio and I woke up early the next day, drove to the mountaintops
near Itacambira, and spent the whole morning exploring one of my top 5
favorite CP sites in Brazil. There are numerous species of CPs there,
growing in large numbers, and all the Drosera are huge in size too. The CPs
found there are: D.communis, D.hirtella var.hirtella, D.montana
var.tomentosa, D.sp."Emas", the hybrid between the last two, D.graminifolia
"northern giant" (HUGE plants!), G.aurea, G.repens, G.sp."giant violacea",
U.hispida, U.praelonga, the hybrid between the last two, U.amethystina,
U.purpureocaerulea, U.nana, U.subulata, U.neottioides, U.trichophylla, and
maybe more that I can't rememer now. Most of these were in flower.

         It was Fabio's first trip to Itacambira and he was equally happy
with all the orchids and other plants of the locally rich campo rupestre
vegetation. Earlier this year, I recommended Itacambira to my friend Joachim
Nertz (Hi Joe!) and he found some D.chrysolepis growing at this site. This
species had never before been seen anywhere near Itacambira, although it is
known from the Serra do Cipo (type location, about 300km to the S) and from
a few locations in the state of Bahia (around 300km to the N). We searched
all around for D.chrysolepis that day and the following morning, but found
nothing. Man these Germans are sure lucky at finding these rare
D.chrysolepis-complex taxa!!

         Although we couldn't find D.chrysolepis, Fabio and I did turn up
something else that was totally unexpected: a new species of Genlisea!!! I
had actually seen it there before but, as usual, it sometimes takes a few
visits to a place before a taxonomic cloud lifts and things suddenly become
clear. I was photographing and paying close attention to the abundant
G.sp."giant violacea", a beautiful new species native to N Minas Gerais. Its
flower is not much larger than that of G.violacea, but the scapes and leaves
are. Curiously, this time I found some "albino" plants of G.sp."giant
violacea" too. Well, they weren't completely lacking in pigment -- the
flowers were a light lilac and the plants a lighter green in color.

         Anyways, back to the new species of Genlisea we discovered. On my
previous trip to Itacambira, I found a single plant of what I had believed
was G.sp."Cipo" (that large G.uncinata-like new species from the Serra do
Cipo). This time I found a nice population of this plant and while
photographing them, something clicked in my brain and I suddenly realized
that it was actually very different from any other Genlisea species I knew
of. I had simply assumed it was G.sp."Cipo" because it was different from
the locally abundant G.sp."giant violacea" and because I hadn't been
optimistic enough to realize that there could actually be a third new
species intermediate in size between G.violacea and G.uncinata. Fantastic!

         As far as I know this latest new species is only present at
Itacambira, but I don't doubt that I accidentally overlooked it at other
locations in N Minas Gerais, like Grao Mogol. It is very similar to
G.sp."giant violacea", but the flowers are a darker purple (versus
pinkish-purple), the lower and upper lips are nearly equal in size (versus
large lower and small upper lip), there is only a very small whitish-yellow
mark at the base of the lower lip (versus a large orange-yellow mark), the
long inflorescences are rigid (versus flexible), pedicels shorter, and the
leaves are thicker and smaller too. I also noticed that when you try to pull
a scape of this new species from the ground, many leaves come attached to
its base (while with G.sp."giant violacea" usually no leaves will come off
with the scape). I'm calling this new species G.sp."Itacambira beauty" and I
hope to see it widespread in cultivation soon. It shouldn't be difficult to
grow, like G.violacea and G.uncinata. I believe it is a perennial in the
wild, but am not 100% sure.

         On the afternoon of that first day Fabio and I hiked to the only
D.graomogolensis site I know of at Itacambira. It's a rather strange habitat
on a mountainside, where the plants grow semi-shaded in an area that
apparently is far from any water source. Yet there is a clear green patch
crossing that mountain diagonally (where D.graomogolensis occurs), showing
that there is at least an underground source of humidity which never
surfaces. Fabio was really perplexed -- as I was when I first discovered
site -- and kept repeating that he had to start studying CP habitats again
from scratch. That site really doesn't resemble anything else we've ever
seen in Brazil and I'm not sure what attracted me there the first time --
maybe pure luck!

         Almost every deep wine-red D.graomogolensis rosette had a young
inflorescence and a few were opening their first large pink-lilac flowers.
We explored the long green patch on that mountainside intensely and
discovered that D.gramogolensis is present all along, in large numbers too.
That population turned out to be much bigger than I'd realized on my two
previous trips to Itacambira, when I'd stuck to studying the uppermost part
of the mountainside.

         The more or less 1h walk to this D.graomogolensis site is one long
CP paradise with numerous species of CPs in large numbers all along. We
found that D.sp."Congonhas" was also beginning to send up inflorescences
there. It is not a very common taxon in that area. Curiously, I have not
found it further north, although I have seen one collection of this new
species from southern Bahia state, a few hundred km away. I was hoping to
find G.violacea there too, but it was too late into the dry season and
they'd all died out already. Itacambira is the N-most area where this
species grows, to my knowledge.

         There's a natural barrier for CPs between Itacambira and Diamantina
which has resulted in a diverse speciation between these two areas. For
example the two different forms of D.graminifolia, the different
G.violacea-complex taxa, as well as D.villosa it's close cousin
D.graomogolensis occur on opposite sides of the barrier. This natural "wall"
is not geographic, as is usually the case, but geologic. There's a geologic
break in the N-S-running Espinhasso Highlands just S of Itacambira. The
altitude continues more or less the same, but the sandstone gives way to
laterite \226 inappropriate for these CPs, mostly because of the thicker
vegetation that grows in this kind of soil.

         G.violacea has just made it over this barrier into Itacambira.
Apparently this was recent since it hasn't spread further N yet apparently.
G.sp."giant violacea" and G.sp."Itacambira beauty" were apparently isolated
from each other and from G.violacea long enough to become sufficiently
different genetically not to hybridize with each other. All 3 taxa remain
distinct at Itacambira, which is the only place I know where one can find 3
taxa of Sect.Tayloria (the G.violacea, G.uncinata, and G.lobata group).

To be Continued....

Fernando Rivadavia
Sao Paulo, Brazil

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