POSTCARD from Mexico Nį11

 

(By Fernando RivadaviaMarch 5th to 7th, 2004) 

 A Trip to Northeast Mexico

 

                 I had a 3-day weekend to go Ping hunting from March 5-7, so I decided to go explore desert habitats way up in NE Mexico. I left Mexico City early on Friday and by 10am and nearly 500km later I was already at the 1st Ping stop of the day, a narrow valley near the town of NuŮez Iíd visited together with friends Ruben and Adolfo last November. Supposedly P.esseriana and P.debbertiana grew at this site, but we only saw flowerless rosettes. Well now they were in full bloom with flowers all around, what a sight that was! But oh what a taxonomical headache! Iím sure I saw no P.debbertiana, unfortunately, but what I did see could fit into either P.esseriana or P.ehlersiae, or both! The size of the flowers and shape of the petals varied quite a lot (long & narrow to short &round). The flower color was mostly a dark purple-pink to pink-lilac but the amount of white around the throat varied a lot. Often there were two parallel white or yellowish stripes near the base of the lower lip, which often had a few hairs. As for P.debbertiana, could it be that they simply hadnít begun flowering yet, or were they maybe growing in some hidden corner?  

 

P.ehlersiae in habitat Nunez. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.ehlersiae in habitat in Nunez. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.ehlersiae in Nunez. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.ehlersiae in Nunez. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.ehlersiae in Nunez. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.ehlersiae in Nunez. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.ehlersiae in Nunez. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.ehlersiae in Nunez. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.ehlersiae in Nunez. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

Some hairs at the entrance of the flower of P.ehlersiae in Nunez. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

    I moved on to El Huizache, to check out another site Iíd found with Adolfo and Ruben. Supposedly P.kondoi and P.ehlersiae grew there, but weíd only seen the latter, which had some really early flowers in November. Well, we werenít sure if weíd seen P.kondoi or not, thinking that maybe its rosettes confused for those of P.ehlersiae, having never seen it before. Once again I saw tons of P.esseriana and/or P.ehlersiae, but saw no trace of P.kondoi, although I walked all around for hours, even chasing GPS locations I had for it. And these P.esseriana / ehlersiae were equally as variable as those at NuŮez, if not more, since there were larger numbers of them.

     I enjoyed myself tons seeing so many flowering P.esseriana / ehlersiae at these 2 sites and taking loads of pictures. The only problem was all the prickly plants. I kept getting poked and scratched by thorns and pointy leaves at every step. At one point, yucca leaves pierced both my knees at the same time and it mustíve gone really deep, because a few steps later I realized blood was streaming down my legs all the way to my shoes! Because of these and others, by the end of the week my bloodied pants made me look like Iíd been in a car accident or maybe had killed someone...  

 

P.ehlersiae in habitat in El Huizache. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.ehlersiae in habitat in El Huizache. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.ehlersiae in El Huizache. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.ehlersiae in habitat in El Huizache. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.ehlersiae in habitat in El Huizache. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.ehlersiae in habitat in El Huizache. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

An impressive yellow flowered Cactus in El Huizache. Keep in mind that you mustn't only spot far cliffs, you must care you feet and legs also !

 

Photo : F. Rivadavia.

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in habitat in El Huizache. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

       The rest of that Friday was spent driving a few more hundred kilometers to the town of Gomez Farias in the state of Tamaulipas, S of Ciudad Victoria. This town sits at the base of the mountains that form the El Cielo Biosphere Reserve, only place known where P.laxifolia grows. I was really looking forward to seeing this fantastic species with long leaves and large pink flowers (which should be present at this time of year). Iíd also seen herbarium collections from these mountains of P.moranensis and P.gracilis (which is very strange since P.gracilis is only known from the Monterrey area in Nuevo Leůn state, a bit far away).

 

Impressive view of the natural park of El Cielo. The home of Pinguicula laxifolia.

Photo : F. Rivadavia. 

A beetle in the natural park of El Cielo. 

Photo : F.Rivadavia

                On Saturday morning I drove up the mountains, following a dirt road that began OK, but after nearly 15km became really rocky and I had to leave the car behind and go on foot. After about an hour of hiking, talking to some people I met along the way, I realized the area I wanted to reach was just too far away and Iíd need more time than I had. Sadly, I had to give up and head back down the mountain.

                I drove a long route to Ciudad Victoria, in hopes of finding P.kondoi in the general region of its supposed type location. But the area didnít look too promising and I later heard rumors that it may have been published incorrectly (just like P.rotundiflora was). I also visited the town of Guemez, where supposedly there were P.cyclosecta, but I think it mustíve been a different Guemez because the one I visited (NE of Ciudad Victoria). City names repeat themselves all too often here in Mexico, which makes hunting down Pings quite a challenge sometimes. Also, many towns are often a mix of a saintís name and native Indian name. Like Santa Maria Yucuhiti, Santiago Nuyoo, San Felipe Juxtlahuaca. The problem with this is that some maps or road signs will show you the Indian name and others the saintís name.

                Finally however, I did see Pings on Saturday, towards the end of the day. I was driving out of Ciudad Victoria towards Jaumave along the old road which goes up some mountains, mentally complaining to myself what a drag day that had been, without a single CP. Suddenly on cliffs by the road I spotted splashes of color. Thousands of flowers everywhere and yes they were Pings! I quickly parked the car best I could and jumped out.  

                The flowers were in general smaller than the P.esseriana / ehlersiae Iíd seen at El Huizache and NuŮez, as were the spurs. There were also lots of hairs around the throat and usually veins too, so I guess theyíre closest to what is called P.jamauvensis. But the variation was just overwhelming, Iím sure if I gave one of each form to Debbert and told him they were from different places, heíd describe each as a separate species! Hahaha!

                As I walked along the rock wall I could see clonal groups with identical flowers, although each group was different from the next. Flowers were lilac, purple, pink, white, and all shades inbetween. Petal shapes varied quite a lot too, I even found one clonal group that had whitish flowers with 2 short upper petals bent forward over the 3 lower ones. Its places like these that make me glad I bought a digital camera. The number of flowers and the variations were just mind-blowing!  

 

The habitat of P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *)  

 

Did you note the car and the road. This is a lazy location. 

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in habitat in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in habitat in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas, using all the place available. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

Cluster of flowers of P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

Rosette of P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

 

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

 

 

A bug using this Pinguicula flower as protection. 

Photo : F.Rivadavia

P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *

Photo : F.Rivadavia

More on : 

Pinguicula ehlersiae

Pinguicula esseriana

Pinguicula jaumavensis

                * Considering the variations Iíve been seeing, Iím really not sure any of these can be separated as species or even varieties. I think Iíll just call them all P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis from now on. Or else simply P.esseriana, which was the 1st name published. 

 

        Anyways, it was one of the most beautiful Ping populations Iíve seen so far, I was going mad with all the colors and forms present, a dream of anybody looking for lovely plants to make new hybrids!  

Variations in P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *)

Photo : F.Rivadavia

Variations in P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *)

 

Photo : F.Rivadavia

 

Variations in P.esseriana / ehlersiae/ jamauvensis

 in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas. (see *)

 

Photo : F.Rivadavia

                From this spot, I still drove several hundred kilometers through San Luis PotosŪ to Matehuala, near the border with Nuevo Leůn. I passed by Jaumave, but didnít really see a nice place to stop and search for the true P.jaumavensis. I did stop at one spot further on, but saw no CPs, only a band of coati-mundis.

                I left Matehuala on Sunday morning while still dark and really enjoyed the views of the sunrise over the deserty landscapes. In this area of southern Nuevo Leůn I drove along some of the longest, flattest, straightest roads Iíve ever seen in my life. And other than a fox, I also saw nearly 10 rabbits in a short stretch of a few km, all attempting to commit suicide under my car wheels! I wouldíve arrived in the town of Aramberri around 7am, if not for a stop to explore a hillside a few kilometers before. I donít know what tipped me off in that near twilight, since later on that day I drove past again and didnít see anything special about that hill.  

Cactus in Sandia

Photo : F .Rivadavia

Cactus in Sandia

Photo : F .Rivadavia

Cactus in Sandia

Photo : F .Rivadavia

 

                It was actually 2 hills and in the depression between them I found Pings! There was a dry water runoff between the hills and the plants grew in shallow gypsum soil on rocks, often hidden under the leaves of prickly rosetted plants like agaves. In these conditions, the Ping rosettes were open and greenish. But in more exposed areas, they were wine-red, compact, partially buried in the soil, with only the leaf tips visible.

                The flowers were, once again, very variable. Most seemed to be closed, as if they would open up later on in the day. They all had long narrow tubes and spurs, suffused with purple, red, yellow, green, and white. The throats were covered with numerous yellow hairs. Now the petal lobes... these were sometimes separate or sometimes overlapping, with round smooth edges or with wavy edges, white or purplish, with heavy purplish veins or nearly veinless.

                The plants I found were what most people call either P.kondoi or P.reticulata. At first I was a bit confused, since I thought P.kondoi / reticulata had rosettes like P.esseriana, but they were clearly quite distinct. I thought maybe they could be P.rotundiflora, not remembering what the defining characteristics of this species were. Iíve seen some pics over the week, but until I see P.rotundiflora in the wild to see what variation is present, in my mind they still look like veinless P.kondoi / reticulata. As for the differences between P.kondoi and P.reticulata, most people seem to consider the latter a synonym of the former, but according to Jan Schlauer (author of P.reticulata) the real P.kondoi is not in cultivation and has never been found again, what everybody grows and knows is actually P.reticulata.  

The habitat of P. reticulata  in Aramberri.

Photo : F. Rivadavia

The habitat of P. reticulata  in Aramberri.

Photo : F. Rivadavia

P. reticulata  in habitat in Aramberri

Photo : F. Rivadavia

P. reticulata in habitat in Aramberri

Photo : F. Rivadavia

P. reticulata  in habitat in Aramberri

Photo : F. Rivadavia

P. reticulata  in habitat in Aramberri

Photo : F. Rivadavia

P. reticulata  in habitat in Aramberri

Photo : F. Rivadavia

P. reticulata flowering in habitat in Aramberri

Photo : F. Rivadavia

 

Variations of P. reticulata  in habitat in Aramberri.

Photo : F. Rivadavia

Variations of P. reticulata  in habitat in Aramberri.

Photo : F. Rivadavia

Variations of P. reticulata  in habitat in Aramberri.

Photo : F. Rivadavia

Variations of P. reticulata  in habitat in Aramberri.

Photo : F. Rivadavia

Variations of P. reticulata  in habitat in Aramberri.

Photo : F. Rivadavia

Cactus with orange flowers in Aramberri.

Photo : F.Rivadavia

Variations in flowers of P. reticulata  in habitat in Aramberri.

Photo : F. Rivadavia

 

Variations in flowers of P. reticulata  in habitat in Aramberri.

Photo : F. Rivadavia

              From Aramberri I drove S to Zaragoza, where I hoped to find one of several collections of P.cyclosecta, which like P.kondoi / reticulata I still hadnít seen in the wild before this trip. I went to this park called El Salto which has a nice waterfall with terraced calcareous formations and clear bluish water. Fortunately, I arrived around 9am, before all the Sunday visitors stormed the place. I quickly headed upstream, further and further into a canyon covered with open pine and oak forests at the bottom along the river. I passed several cliff faces, but none of them looked right. My GPS didnít work in the forest, but some cliffs were obviously not facing N, too sunny and dry.

                But then I saw one rock wall and I knew that it was the right one. What tipped me off? Well, like at the P.mirandae site I found in Oaxaca and the P.esseriana in Tolantongo, there were Vriesia-like bromeliads on the cliff. They were rather small, but they were still of the water-holding tank-type. And thatís where I found P.cyclosecta on islands of vegetation or cracks in rocks. There were only winter rosettes, no flowers unfortunately (except an old scape). They only grew in one section of the cliff that seemed more humid, where there is maybe water runoff in the wet season.  

El Salto, Zaragoza.

Photo : F. Rivadavia

The habitat of Pinguicula cyclosecta in El Salto, Zaragoza.

Photo : F. Rivadavia

 Pinguicula cyclosecta in El Salto, Zaragoza growing in island of vegetation.

Photo : F. Rivadavia

 Pinguicula cyclosecta in El Salto, Zaragoza.

Photo : F. Rivadavia

More on P. cyclosecta

 Pinguicula cyclosecta in El Salto, Zaragoza, growing in cracks in rocks.  

Photo : F. Rivadavia

                I explored a few more locations around Zaragoza, Aramberri, and further N and W, before returning to Mexico City, but saw no more Pings that day. I was especially surprised not to see anything on the 2 pure gypsum hills I explored, which were very similar to the sites where Iíd found P.gypsicola, P.takakii, P.medusina, and the new species in Tonala.

                The trip total: 2500km!!!!!!