Monday 3rd December
Had a lie in and slept like a log. Café Los Cuiles again for breakfast – no cockroach but equally good food. Wandered around the city centre for most of the morning before heading off again. Our first task was to find the offices of the Mexican official cartographers, INEGI, in the northern suburbs to purchase some larger scale maps. Found it ok and bought what we required for practically nothing.
We then headed out of Oaxaca along Hwy 190. A short distance later we saw decent sized populations of Agave americana ssp oaxacensis and also our familiar Agave potatorum, both around 2200m.
We also saw another agave in some numbers that didn't conform to anything in the books for that region. It looked like an Agave americana ssp protamericana type, quite large and silvery with broad leaves.
Then almost exactly where the references suggest, at El Cortijo, we saw our first population of Dasylirion serratifolium, growing with a smallish population of Nolina longifolia and sporadic individuals of a clumping form of Brahea dulcis. Both of these are plants I was keen to find, so it was gratifying to see them in the same spot. Dasylirion serratifolium is a plant often offered for sale in the UK, obtained from growers in Italy and Spain. But they aren’t these plants so far as I can tell. These had extremely rough surfaced leaves – like coarse sandpaper. Small, trunk forming plants with tufted leaves and an yellowish olive-green colour.
The Nolina longifolia was also interesting, this one population showing considerable variation in appearance in leaf width and length. Both seemed to reach a maximum just before flowering size and then diminish with age so that trunked plants had relatively small crowns.
Having been previously confused by plants I have seen in cultivation in Europe labelled as Nolina longifolia, I am now more inclined to accept that they are all accurately named and just part of a variable species complex.
Just a short way further along the road, at Refugio de Morelos, we saw a huge cultivated furcraea of a species unfamiliar to me. It made a fat trunk and had deeply channelled, U profiled, green leaves. This is possibly Furcraea quicheensis but some distance from home.
Around this region there was a lovely population of Agave salmiana ssp crassispina – very chunky fat plants.
A few km further along we encountered our first plants of the gauntly attractive Yucca mixtecana, the dominant yucca species in this part of Mexico, growing suddenly in some numbers along the roadside slopes, alongside Agave kerchovei and Agave angustifolia.
Below: Agave kerchovei
Below: a cactus (Mammillaria carnea, possibly)
We didn’t hang about, though, as the daylight was fading (it had been raining and overcast so headed into Huajuapan de Léon and to Hotel Garcia Peral.
M$600 for the night with a good restaurant in the front – after a decent dinner we wandered around town where I bought some antihistamine tabs for my bites which had become something of a distraction.
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