Also on this road was S. alba growing among rocks on the right of the road – in bud
but not yet in flower (BB209). S. frankiana was growing in a grassy area on the left
of the road. The two species are only about 10 m apart. In fact, four distinct Sulcorebutias
were growing in a distance of only about 10 km.
The next day we drove from Mizque to Sucre with two side trips – one to Santiago
and the other to Qiquijana, reaching our final destination long after nightfall.
The first stop of the day was for S. albissima growing among white rocks and shale,
12 km from Aiquile at 2625 m (BB354).
Then a little further along the road to Santiago, S. santiaginiensis, near Kairani
at 2450 m. (BB355)
S. swobodae, growing by the hundreds along a rocky outcrop on top of a low ridge.
These were typical yellow-spined plants but brown spined plants grew on another ridge
across the road (10 km from Aiquile at 2450 m (BB353)). A campesino told us that
goats ate the plants when they came into flower.
We returned to Aiquile, then drove past the hospital and across the river, 2 km from
Aiquile (2450 m; BB1075) on gentle rocky slope we found Weingartia multispina. The
plants were growing amongst dense shrubs by the road (a poor one even by Bolivian
Then on the southern edge of Aiquile (2350 m; BB352) S. mentosa on a hill covered
with eucalyptus trees. The plants were growing in deep shade among rocks and leaf
litter. By mid-day, we had seen seven new species of cacti and two new genera. When
Brian visited this site in 2002, none of these plants remained, although others were
found not too far away.
We then had a long drive to Quiquijana, by the school at 2813 m (BB371), we found
Parodia prestoensis growing with S. pulchra. Outside the airports, this was the only
place we saw other Europeans – four German cactophiles, whom we led to the site,
driving down the steepest hill I have ever been on!
After a pleasant evening with Brian and his wife Patricia at their home in Sucre,
we headed for the small and desperately poor village of Millares at 2350 m (BB003).
At an opening between two houses, we climbed a steep hill of slate-like rock to find
first Gymnocalycium pflanzii v. millaresii. Here W. platygona was growing with growing
with Blossfeldia liliputana also. All 3 species are in these photos.
We returned to Sucre and took a road out of town where on a rocky hillside 11.5 km
from Alamos at 2980 m (BB203), there was a habitat of S. canigueralii.
A little further along, S. vazqueziana at the Barranca pass (3090 m, BB346). Only
a few plants were found at this site. An old lady armed with a pick arrived and offered
to help us dig up plants, in exchange for a tip of course. We declined her help and
the plants remained there. She was obviously used to the sight of cactophiles.
After a good steak dinner and another comfortable night at Brian’s home, we hit the
road again in the direction of Zudanez. 8 km from Sucre (3000m, BB343), we encountered
S. canigueralii again on a low rocky hillside
Then, at Hacienda Uahka, 23 km from Yamparaez on a low rocky ridge (3175 m, BB801).
S. tarabucoensis v. aureiflora growing with Parodia yamparaezii, Lobivia cinnabarina
and Echinopsis calorubra.
We then made a side trip from Lamboyto via Presto to a site, about 30 km from Presto
at 2550 m (BB380). The distance was not too great as the crow flies but took 3 hours
to reach because of the poor state of the road (not to mention a problem with a drunken
hitch-hiking campesino). However, it was worth it to see S. tarabucoensis v. patriciae.
This was only the second expedition to this site, and I was only the third person
in the world to see it (after Brian and Ralph Hillman). The plants were hard to find
among the rocks and leaf litter on a hillside covered in low-growing shrubs (1-1.5
m tall). Brian has since found another site where the plants are more abundant.
On the way back, we found S. gemmae, 5 km along the road, growing on the top of a
rocky outcrop at 2750 m (BB378). Soon after this we had our third puncture of the
trip, fording a stream. This was our longest day on the road, because of hold-ups
on the way back caused by a truck that couldn’t get round the bends.
Two days and many new cactus species later on the road from Zudanez to Valle Grande,
we found S. crispata about 6.0 km from Nuevo Mundo at 2320m (BB1079). This was hard
to find on a rocky outcrop on the top a small hill.
After spending the night at a good hotel in Valle Grande, we headed east and 7.5
km (1900 m, BB229) out of the town we reached the habitat of S. langeri. This needed
the longest trek of our trip, about 500 m to the foot of the hill then a climb to
the very top where plants grew in deep sandy soil. As usual, we just missed flowering.
We were now on the road back to Santa Cruz and the airport. The day was overcast
unfortunately, and we were re-tracing out steps part of the way from Mataral. At
a site 5 km east of Mataral at 1525 m (BB1082), we found W. pulquinensis was growing
on the side of a hill. They were growing with Gymnocalycium zegarrae, Cleistocacti
and Neoraimondias in the shade of trees. Each species seemed to grow at a different
altitude with the Weingartias highest up.