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 Mexico Trip - part 5

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Chris43
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PostSubject: Mexico Trip - part 5   Sat May 29, 2010 1:58 pm

We left our hotel at 7:45 am heading north from the city of Durango on the MEX-45. At a hillside close to the reservoir called Presa Pena de Aguila, we found two Mammillarias, a form of M. gummifera (perhaps) and M. mercadensis. The plants had obviously flowered fairly recently, but we found none with flowers.


View of the reservoir


M. mercadensis


Close up of plant


M. gummifera perhaps

We then made a couple of fruitless stops near the village of El Molino, looking for a Thelocactus. The next stop also proved fruitless for that plant, but there were superb specimens of M. gummifera (probably!).


M. gummifera


Close of this plant showing lovely spination.

Then it was on across the causeway road across the lake of Guatimape and on to Coneto Pass. This is a place that brings to my mind some of the early field numbered plants that I had from Mesa Garden, and it certainly was not a disappointment. Here is what we found:


M. longiflora


A group with flowers not yet ready to open


Another lovely M. gummifera


Typical site of M. gummifera and M. longiflora here


Then we came across large flat slabs of rock, cracked in places.....


and in the cracks..M. theresae


M. theresae closer in


Another shot of a M. theresae


A view of the pass

We did spend a long time here, and the photos I've shown are only a few of those I took. M. longiflora was everywhere, their bright flowers visible from a good distance. But time was pressing on, and so reluctantly we left and headed across to the Mex-45 again towards Rodeo. But just before that town we took a right turn onto the Mex-34 towards Nazas and soon cross the Rio Nazas II bridge where we stopped and searched the hillside to the north of the road. Here we found Mammillaria guelzowiana everywhere, among Echinocerei, and Thelocacti.


M. guelzowiana


A nice group of M. guelzowiana


YOu can see a group of M. guelzowiana growing in the rocks in the foreground.

Again we had to leave this lovely spot and move on, this time a bit further along the Mex-34 and through a village called Las Animas. Here we stopped and explored a likely looking hillside.


The hill


M. stella-de-tacubaya


You need good eyes to spot the plant in this shot of the habitat


But here it is somewhat closer to the camera.

By this tme it was getting late in the afternoon, and we still had a distance to drive to our hotel in Gomez Palacio.

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PostSubject: Re: Mexico Trip - part 5   Sat May 29, 2010 3:34 pm

I really like that M. theresae. Any pictures I've ever seen of it never had such dense spines. These plants, from a distance look like plumosa. Is that due to sun exposure or harder growing conditions?
The Tubercles don't look to be as long as in other images on line, except for that last image which has one tubercle sticking out to the side. The spines on that tubercle appear to be close to the more common online images. Here's two examples, from other sites of what I'm talking about

http://www.cactus-mall.com/tree/M.theresae.jpg

http://cactus.aicon.ro/Mammillaria%20theresae%20fruct%2014.09.09%20DSCF9276.jpg
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PostSubject: Re: Mexico Trip - part 5   Sat May 29, 2010 5:07 pm

The M. theresae plants are really small, no more than 1/2" across (1cm). They grow almost underground, with the tops just emerging from the grit.
The plants you show are cultivated plants, and are both taller and plumper than you;d ever find in habitat, which leads to the tubercles being more obvious, I think.
M. plumosa is a much bigger plant!

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PostSubject: Re: Mexico Trip - part 5   Sun May 30, 2010 7:24 am

Amazing. One wonders how the original discoverers of this plant managed to find it and what else lies out there waiting to be discovered. I did not manage to find this plant in 2006 even though I slept among the boulders in dripping rain.
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PostSubject: Re: Mexico Trip - part 5   Sun May 30, 2010 10:56 am

Regarding the M.guelzowiana;- was there much different in the spine colour and lenght of the population you saw.
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PostSubject: Re: Mexico Trip - part 5   Sun May 30, 2010 12:03 pm

I've just looked through all my photos from this site, and I would say that there is some variation, some more yellow, some more brown, but all about the same length.

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PostSubject: Re: Mexico Trip - part 5   Sun May 30, 2010 6:09 pm

Here is a group of M. theresae in the fall of 2003, in a pool of water after heavy rains. Some plants are completely submerged! The photo is from a scanned slide, so the quality is not great.

Wolter.

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PostSubject: Re: Mexico Trip - part 5   Sun May 30, 2010 7:44 pm

Oh Come on! Those are Frog eggs in a pond!
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PostSubject: Re: Mexico Trip - part 5   Sun May 30, 2010 7:46 pm

I'd heard of tis happening, Wolter, but it is amazing to see! I would have thought that the water would have drained through the cracks in the slabs of rock that M. theresae grow in, but obviously not quickly at least!

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PostSubject: Re: Mexico Trip - part 5   Sun May 30, 2010 8:19 pm

It started raining in the late afternoon of the day before, October 11, somewhat south of Cuencamé. During the night (motel La Posta, Cuencamé) there was a lot of rain and the next morning it was still raining. We left Cuencamé on October 12 and drove along the MEX-40 into the direction of Durango, taking the turnoff to the west at Francisco I. Madero. From there we went to San Juan del Rio, and it was still raining, sometimes heavily. Here we crossed the MEX-45 and drove into the direction of Coneto de Comonfort, then up to the Coneto pass. By now we had driven more than 200 km from our hotel in Cuencamé.
The road up the Coneto pass had been paved in 2003, making the drive to the theresae site an easy task (in 2002 we had to park the car at the bottom and walk up the pass, the road was still unpaved then and in very poor shape, not really driveable). Some of the company stayed in the car because it was still raining. We found many theresaes (in the fall, after the rainy season, they are much better visible than in the spring) and the plants of the group on the photo were the most amazing ones.
Sorry, I did not wait to see how many hours or days it would take before they dried up again.....
We left the Coneto pass. There was still a bit of drizzle and we drove to Rodeo to have a look at the guelzowiana site which Chris described. By then it had finally become dry!
4 days later, on October 16, we drove into the Laguna de Mayran (nowadays called the Desierto de Mayran), about 150 km in a straight line from Cuencamé and about 300 km from the theresae site. Here we drove along a 30 km 1 lane gravel road to Mala Noche (bad night) through a flooded desert, this being perhaps the most memorable part of all my Mexican trips. This was 4 days after all that rain. See the photo below, taken from a hill on the north side of the Laguna de Mayran, after we had driven for long stretches with water on both sides of the road. Imagine what it will have looked like during the rain!
I wrote 2 articles about these adventures in the Dutch Succulenta journal.

Wolter.

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