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  News from the Jungle
From: "Eduardo Goncalves" edggon at hotmail.com> on 2001.05.11 at 18:43:54(6424)
Dear aroiders,

Since my last (and dark) message about the situation in the rainforests
of southern contries of Latin America, I have heard a lot of disagreement.
Sorry guys... I know I was too hard, mainly for those that only had traveled
recently the tropics behind the eco-tour guides and the powerfull dollars.
Costa Rica is not a good sample of Latin America. It seems it was the only
country that could find an interesting way to preserve its diversity without
closing all doors. However, I think I may apologise myself for my though
view of the (third) world sharing with you my impressions of my last
Botanical tour in Amazonia. Here we go:

We left S?o Paulo to Manaus on May, 1st, and from the windows of the
plane it was already possible to note when we were approaching the jungle.
Still in Para state (southern portion of Amazonia) we could see the small
hills covered with the transition vegetation (Cerrado - Amazonia), then only
higher-elevation portions of the forest (with enourmous patches of
deflorestation), and then the lowland forest. Wow, it is huge! Manaus is a
big (and chaotic) city deeply imersed in the jungle. We visited the INPA,
the main research institution in Amazonia, and also the home of
Bio-Paranoia! For them, ALL biologists are potential Bio-pirates! Anyway, we
could find lots of Aroids growing aroid the main buildings, including
flowering plants of Xanthosoma blandum and many other species (Philodendron
solimoesense, P. barrosoanum, Alloschemone occidentalis, many Dracontium,
etc). I also took a look in the herbarium, with lots of interesting aroids.
At the same day we left Manaus to Tabatinga, a small village sister to
the Colombian city of Leticia. It is the geographic corner among Brazil,
Colombia (Amazonas) and Peru (Loreto). Once again, many aroids around. One
of the main houseplants is Dieffenbachia cannifolia and large clumps of the
naturalized Alocasia macrorrhizos. We took a small boat to Cauxi lake, the
first place we entered the jungle. In the way to Cauxi lake, I could observe
many hemiepiphytic and epiphytic aroids growing at trees in the innundated
portion of the jungle. Very huge individuals of Anthurium clavigerum,
Philodendron pulchrum, P. megalophyllum, P. uleanum, as well as large clumps
of Anthurium trinerve. When we arrived at the "terra firme" portion near the
Cauxi lake, the first plant we could see was Bognera recondita. This is a
incospicuous aroid at a first glance, spreading its rhizomatous stem under
the Sellaginela covering. The Marantaceae-like leaves are erect. The most
exciting discover was that the plants were fertile, many of them with
inflorescences at anthesis. Wow! We could even observe the probable
pollinators, for the first time. We could also collect another possibly
underscribed Philodendron. Many other aroids were observed around there,
including the delicate Philodendron grazielae. Most epiphytic aroids were
found growing in ant-gardens, that made our observations somewhat painful. I
wont cite the many interesting palms and Heliconias we could observe around
there. I also won?t comment the Marantaceae and the many orchids that I will
never know the names... Wow! Life is everywhere (including trying to suck
our blood)!

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