Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Monday, February 4, 2013

New discoveries

Aechmea nudicaulis in Mexico
Aechmea nudicaulis documented for the first time in the state of Hidalgo
While not all discoveries are as fantastic as discovering a new species, smaller discoveries can still add to the body of scientific knowledge. When traveling anywhere, I always recommend keeping your eyes open. In a trip in 2012, the timing was just right to have two such events happen in the same day.

In the warm and humid lowlands of the state of Hidalgo, Mexico, we were exploring some promising roads that were 'vaguely' shown on our map.  When doing these exploration focused trips it is to be expected to take a wrong turn or two.  Or three or four.  But the great part about that is going places where you might not have planned and seeing what is hiding there.

Mostly hanging on the massive trees around rivers and streams, there was no shortage of Aechmea nudicaulis putting on a show with their bright red floral bracts.  Without their blooms it would have been easy to see the green Aechmea and think it was the much more common Aechmea mexicana.

Here is a great colony spreading out along a horizontal branch  crowded with orchids, Tillandsias, and even cacti (Rhipsalis).

Aechmea mexicana Hidalgo Mexico
Aechmea mexicana growing near the Aechmea nudicaulis
On the left is the larger Aechmea mexicana that grows much more prolifically than Aechmea nudicaulis.  Although Ae. mexicana is a larger plant, when seen up in the trees it can be hard to distinguish with a quick glance.  Both species are widespread throughout the country, but Ae. mexicana is much more common to see.

Also, several blooming specimens of Pitcairnia xanthocalyx were found. If these were not in bloom, it would have been almost impossible to identify these grassy plants. Overall it was a pretty good day discovering these two species of bromeliads growing in the state of Hidalgo for the first time.

Pitcairnia xanthocalyx in habitat
Pitcairnia xanthocalyx in Hidalgo Mexico  
Pitcairnia xanthocalyx Hidalgo Mexico
Pitcairnia xanthocalyx in habitat

Pitcairnia xanthocalyx collected for herbarium
Pitcairnia xanthocalyx flower
Flower of Pitcairnia xanthocalyx