Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Aechmea bracteata var. pacifica

Aechmea bracteata

Another widespread species throughout much of Mexico is Aechmea bracteata. Found growing on trees and boulders they can be quite large and even form extensive clumps. This variety is found on the west coast. Both forms of the species are bright green with scalloped edges that makes large spines along the leaf edges.

When blooming they have large red bracts for which they are named. The flowers are fairly small and are followed by small berries that continue giving a nice colorful show.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Spring Break Alternative: Eco-Adventure in Vallarta!

Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Join Us for a Unique Eco-Adventure!

Come explore the tropical paradise of Puerto Vallarta! This is a unique opportunity to have an active and refreshing Spring Break that you won't forget. Puerto Vallarta is a great and friendly Mexican city located on the Banderas Bay, offering the best of the ocean and beaches as well as the tropical plants and bird of the mountains.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Billbergia pallidiflora in a New State?

A massive Billbergia pallidiflora clump in Sinaloa.
Billbergia pallidiflora is very widespread throughout the country of Mexico. It is one of two species of Billbergia from Mexico, although the other species, Billbergia viridiflora, appears to be more closely aligned with the Mexican genus Ursulaea and the Podaechmea subgenus of Aechmea.  Regardless of the status of B. viridiflora, B. pallidiflora is still widespread and like any species covering a vast geographic range there is quite a bit of variability.

I was lucky enough to finally catch the B. pallidiflora plants blooming in Jalisco already, but the plants further south in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas seemed to be a bit bigger. The colors range from green to a muddy/ruddy color to a dark purple.  The light white banding is also variable between plants in all populations. But this clump in the state of Sinaloa is notable for two reasons: it is a massive clump and is in a state where there has been no recorded presence! Typically I have only seen this species in clumps of 3-5 plants at the largest. This one clearly have grown into a formidable clump!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hechtia montana Variability in Sahuaripa, Sonora

Hopefully you have realized from my other posts that I am fascinated by the variability of plants within a population. Sometimes subtle, sometimes quite stark, these differences from one individual to the next is a nice reminder of genetic diversity and how the biological world works.

This post is about the variability of Hechtia montana in and around Sahuaripa, Sonora. Sometimes you have to get up close to see the differences in plants, but sometimes like in the picture to the right, you can see a difference in the size and habit even from a distance.

Hechtia montana: a tough, widespread plant

Hechtia montana just might be the northernmost species in the genus (along with Hechtia texensis to the east). Found from low elevations along the coast of the Sea of Cortez up to the high, hot (and cold), and dry desert mountains of Sonora. Both of which are extremely tough places to live.

Personally, my favorite form is from the populations up in the mountains--appropriate given their name! They deal with being a lot colder and probably a lot hotter than the coast; okay, both areas get really hot!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Epiphytic Yucca

yucca growing epiphytically
Yucca growing epiphytically in a pine tree. 

Plants don't always grow where they are supposed to.  As my friends say, "they must not have read the books."  The lesson is that we need to remember that the natural world is always full of surprises and that we usually have too narrow of a point of view of things.  Part of the reason genetic diversity is so important to preserve is that individuals can carry the genetic combination that will allow them to survive in different niches.  Particularly important with a rapidly changing climate that we are now undergoing.