Subchapter 9 – Jacobina and the Neighborhood, Part I

Dear reader,

This chapter contains over 200 photos of several municipalities in the vicinity of Jacobina, some at a distance of 100 kms or more. I´ve made an effort to visit and to show the dramatic differences of the biomes Cerrado and Caatinga where the variation of topography impacts the botanical aspect of the environment. “Distribution ranges of plant species are related to physical variables of ecosystems that limit plant growth. Therefore, each plant species response to physical factors builds up the functional diversity of an ecosystem. The higher the species richness of an ecosystem, the larger the probability of maintaining functions and the higher the potential number of plant functional groups (FGs). Thus, the richness potentially increases the number of functions of the highly diverse Atlantic Rainforest domain in Brazil. Severe plant growth limitations caused by stress, however, decrease species richness.” ¹

In 2012, while exploring an area of Caatinga in Ourolandia (50kms of terrible sandy road!) I found a bromeliad which I was unable to recognize. It was not in flower. It had a different shape, distinguishing itself from the predominant species of the region: Neoglaziovia variegata (in thousands), Bromelia sp and Aechmea aquilega. After a few months and to my utter surprise, Rafael Louzada to whom I had forwarded a sample of the plant, confirmed it to be a new species of Hohenbergia which he described and named as Hohenbergia lativaginata. Exclusive! See here the very first photos of this new species in its habitat. Needless to say Adroaldo and I were exultant with the finding. It is my third new species of Hohenbergia discovered in Bahia: Hohenbergia igatuensis (Chapada Diamantina, Igatu – 2003) and Hohenbergia magnispina (Morro do Chapéu, 2003).

In 2013, I revisited the habitat of Hohenbergia lativaginata. This time I found few individuals in flower! Mulford Foster expressed my feelings very well: “My first sight of a Hohenbergia in flower was in 1939 when Racine and I visited Bahia in Brazil. Here we found Hohenbergia stellata in the trees very near the city’s edge. It was a glorious sight with clusters of brilliant crimson red bracts, flowers like so many stars shooting beautiful blue petals from their strobilate heads. This was one bromeliad, we were sure, that must go back alive to Florida to brighten our garden in the winter months; thus, Hohenbergia stellata came to American horticulture. Only a colored photo (which we are pleased to include) can express its startling brilliance.” ²

Prepare your heart for the photos of the population of Orthophytum navioides, THE most amazing I have ever seen in nature! It was well worth the effort dispensed to find it on top of a big mountain. An unforgettable experience.

See also the shots of my first encounter with Orthophytum maracasense and Orthophytum saxicola in habitat. And a big surprise: Orthophytum maracasense as epiphyte in a licuri palm (Syagrus coronata)! This palm is the home of the beautiful and endangered Lear’s Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari).

The Cerrado is a miracle. Read this new finding: “A carnivorous plant that can eat tiny worms thanks to its unusual underground leaves has been discovered in Brazil. The Philcoxia minensis plant has flowering leaves above the ground too, but it’s what’s beneath the soil that has fascinated scientists. The subterranean leaves, each about the size of a pinhead, are able to absorb some light through the white soil of the Cerrado, a tropical savannah region in Brazil.” ³

In retrospect, I have no doubt that my field trips offer many rewarding benefits. Meeting people is a privilege and a renewed lesson to be remembered. The humbleness and simplicity of some folks are a reminder of the virtues I must pursue if I want to be happy and in peace.

¹ http://www.lerf.esalq.usp.br/divulgacao/recomendados/artigos/Saporetti-Junior2012.pdf

² Brazil, Orchid of the Tropics – 1945 by Mulford B Foster; Racine Sarasy Foster

³http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2085079/Worm-eating-plant-Philcoxia-minensis-discovered-Brazil-traps-prey-sticky-underground-leaves.html#ixzz2avrzirKo

More info: http://journal.bsi.org/V06/4/