Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 09:02:04 -0200 From: "Fernando Rivadavia-Lopes" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Message-Id: <aabcdefg3645$foo@default> Subject: Minas Gerais Expeditions: part 10
From there I went to my favorite D.chrysolepis site, hoping
there'd be lots of seeds waiting for me. I'd passed by
there the day before, just after sunset, but hadn't been
able to find a single plant. I though it'd be easy to spot
the glistening dew on the long leaves with my flashlight,
but no luck. Strangely, even in broad daylight I was only
able to find a handfull of D.chrysolepis. Had some botanist
gone on a D.chrysolepis herborizing spree there recently?
And worst of all, there were no ripes seeds either, only
young scapes! Damn, damn, damn!
I then hiked down to the nearby site of the giant G.sp."Cipo
giant", where I'd seen some large D.chrysolepis in flower in
July. I wasn't hoping to find any G.sp."Cipo giant" since
we hadn't found a single plant there in July, but I sure
wasn't expecting to see the whole site burned down to the
ground! It was a really humid area and I didn't think
wildfires reached it. Unfortunately, the large flowering
D.chrysolepis I'd seen had turned to ashes as well and I'd
have to wait for it to grow back from the roots. So no
seeds there either.
At least one good result of such extensive burning is that
the REALLY wet spots are suddenly singled out in the
coal-black landscape as remnant green patches -- like that
new site described above which we found in July with
D.sp."stemless chrysolepis", D.communis, G.aurea, and
others. Although I'd been to the G.sp."Cipo giant" several
times over the past few years, I had never realized that
just a few meters off to the left, there was a fantastic new
CP site that I'd been overlooking. What a surprise that
turned out to be!
I was heading back to the car, having given up on G.sp."Cipo
giant" and D.chrysolepis seeds, when I spotted some large
yellow flowers in a remnant green patch slightly uphill, in
an area which had been previously obscured to me by tall
grasses (which were now a layer of ashes on the ground).
Walking over, I realized it was G.aurea! Lots of it too and
the further I looked the more flowers I spotted. As I
explored that boggy area, I couldn't believe how much
G.aurea there was, I'd never seen anything like it! There
were more G.aurea flower scapes per square meter in that bog
than at any other I had ever seen. And the inflorescences
were HUGE: up to 55cm in height -- the tallest I've ever
found and a new alltime record for this species!
One of the strangest things about this new G.aurea site I'd
just discovered was that it was as slippery as ice. Why?
Well the ground was practically one continuous carpet of
G.aurea rosettes. Because the leaves of this species are
coated with a viscous gelatinous mucilage, I was slipping
and sliding all over. I even fell once -- ironically
banging my knee hard on the only rock jutting out of that
whole bog! Well, I guess it was a small price to pay for
the discovery of such an amazing new site!
And did I mention that there were tons of ripe seed pods
too? As I yanked dozens upon dozens of ripe G.aurea seed
pods off countless inflorescences, I suddenly felt like a
coffee picker, stripping the branches of coffee bushes clean
of their coffee beans. Ha!Ha! Having barely "scratched the
surface", I soon stopped, knowing that the bagfull with more
or less 30g of G.aurea seed pods I'd collected were enough
to make seedbanks around the world happy.
And there's more! Among the G.aurea there were also more
D.chrysolepis per square meter than I'd ever seen anywhere
on the Serra do Cipo before. There were plants of all sizes
and even some seeds available too. I found some growing on
bare sandstone covered by a film of water -- most unusual
for this species! But most bizarre of all was the fact that
most of the D.chrysolepis were growing in very boggy soil
together with G.aurea! I had never seen these two species
together before. D.chrysolepis usually grows in much drier
sandy habitats. In fact, D.sp."stemless chrysolepis" is the
one that is usually found in peaty boggy areas with G.aurea!
I guess this only further proves that it is in fact a
separate species and not an ecotype of D.chrysolepis.
Fires had reached into certain sections of this bog and I
got some good pictures of partly or completely burned
D.chrysolepis. It's a really sad sight to see such
beautiful specimens of such a fantastic species being killed
like that -- but it's nature's way. Other CPs in that bog
were: D.communis, D.montana var.tomentosa "hairless scapes"
(also unusual since the hairless form usually occurs in
drier soils and the hairy one in boggy soils), U.nana,
U.tricolor, and maybe G.repens. I'll have to return there
during the wet season, when there are probably many other
Utrics to be seen and hopefully more G.sp."Cipo giant" too.
What an amazing new location it turned out to be and how
could I have missed it all these years?!?!?!
To be Continued....
Fernando Rivadavia Sao Paulo, Brazil
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