Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Scaphosepalum pleurothallodes part 2, round 3

By this point I have spent so much money and time looking for this species that despite the anxiety that I have to find it, my energies and spirit were reaching the low point.  Jeff gave me some more enthusiasm to do it for one more time, and we went to the same area but this time to explore two more trails that went along the river. We went with Mercedes Grefa, Gabriel's wife and she was great, happy and help us negotiate with the kichwa community of Alukus for permission to go in their territory.

We walked along the river and found some incredible little pleurothallids from the now Panmorfia genus. Along our walk along the Jatunyacu river we found this incredible site called "El Lamedero" where you can see clouds of butterflies and many of them flying around you and resting all over you.
Along this trail, Mercedes and Jeff kept on bringing me plants, hoping that they will be Scaphosepalum pleurothallodes, and none of them were.  At one point Mercedes told me that she just wanted to cry every time I said no...
 Some of the little treasures we found, Panmorphia barbulata, Platystele stenostachya and Dryadella cuspidata

We turned around and try to hike towards a little hill using a path that had been open for wood harvesting.  This place is full of very hungry mosquitos that we could not stop walking otherwise they will devour us.  The mosquitos sacrificed me a couple times but I was just so eager to find this plant that I could not really care at that moment.

Coming out of the forest, I just checked on some trees and I found one plant with one flower of something that could potentially be S. pleurothallodes.  My time was over, I needed to go and get a movilization permit form my plants, go back to Quito and continue exploring for other species in other regions, so this was a beautiful finding.
I am coming out of the forest with Mercedes and on my other hand in the ziploc bag you can see the "Scaphosepalum pleurothallodes" I found.
Look clearly at my arm, can you see the one million mosquito bites? but I am so happy.
This map shows our exploration efforts in this region, on the upper right corner you can see additional trails.

But NOT so fast
It turned out that what I found it was not S. pleurothallodes, it is actually S. merinoi, and it is really difficult to distinguish them because vegetatively they are similar but you need to see the column to be certain and for that purpose you need a microscope, so yes. Scaphosepalum pleurothallodes won again (4-0).

Before I forget!!!
In these Amazonian adventures our friends, Gabriel, Mercedes, Hernan and German treated us with the Amazonian delicacy..."Chontacuros" that are actually catterpillars that live in the chonta palm (Bactris gasipaes) and represent an important source of protein.  They are fried in butter and served on a bed of zesty heart of palm (also the Chonta palm - Bactris gasipaes) over a banana leaf.  You eat them with your hands
Interesting to try, not sure I could add them to the regular diet unless I get lost in the field again!
Think about the trophic levels of this dish....

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