Took me by the hand."
I was shocked at how MUCH of this grew EVERYWHERE around the volcano--acres and acres of lady's mantle. Who'd a thunk it? I know the genus from South Africa and Eurasia--how surprising to see it here too. I'd surmise it's just about the most abundant forb on the Paramo.
At first I thought it was a daphne--but research revealed this is in the Rubiaceae: incredibly abundant in certain areas. I can't believe I only took one picture of this--it was wonderful! Since it experiences a cool summer every day and a chilly winter every night it is hopeless in a Continental climate. Annoyingly they could very likely grow many of these plants outdoors in cool, maritime climates like Sweden, Scotland, Vancouver Island or coastal Western USA. Grrrr.
|Asplenium cf. viride
I've seen a lot of Azorella--but NOTHING like this with the ludicrous chartreuse excrescences--seed? flowers? Couldn't figure it out...
We saw this (or a close relative) time and again--some almost yellow. I know they grow this in California.
I was totally mystified by this--but the leaves should have alerted me that it was Melostomataceous! Extrremely abundant all over the paramo--and lovely!
The dominant graminoid where we were--with a definite resemblance to my dreaded 'Karl Foerster' which is so overplanted in Denver.
The only Calceolaria we found--and it is out of focus. So be it.
One of the coolest (and commonest) shrubs of the paramo. Looked South African to our eyes. Of course no nope of hardiness despite growing at 12,000' No justice in the world.
|Ephedra cf. andina
I think we saw at least three species of Ephedra.
|Ephedra cf. andina
|Ephedra cf. andina
So odd to see these growing on wet paramo--but then I saw ephedra at 15,000 on wet tundra in Sikkim!
Extremely reminiscent of Gentiana prostrata in the Rockies. Closes its flowers just as fast if covered. I've seen similar in Asia too...
And we even found a second species...but not the spectacular scarlet and yellow and giant lavender ones: perhaps I need to go back?
Another extremely common plant--so much like the weed in New Zealand my friend Steve Newall collected on a massive scale for European green roofs. This one I'd grow.
Ridiculously like a penstemon. But another Orobanchaceae, I believe, and hemiparasitic.
We ate these in salads and at many a buffet: I was thrilled to see it being grown as a crop.
What a shock to see this genus I know so well from New Zealand (one of which thrives in my garden!)..so different from our North American Polygonaceae!
|Passiflora cf. quitensis
Photographed on a cliff about 20 away from my phone. There are a LOT of passionflowers in Ecuador--mostly in rain forest.
I was so stunned to see this, which grows wild a mile or two from where I grew up (albeit Colorado's is a different subspecies: var. wrightiana)
Obviously had to take two shots of this--one of the few species we truly share!
Gloriously thistle-oid!! I had a hard time combining this in my mind with the delicate cushion Perezia spp. I've seen in Patagonia.
|Pernettya (Gaultheria) prostrata
This was everywhere--often growing on exposed open paramo!
I saw this red club moss several times. What a wonderful thing...
I have a thing about Plantago. Now is not the time to talk about it. We did NOT see Plantago rigida.
The only tree (and a small one at that) on the Paramo. There are many species--not entirely sure which ones we saw. They reminded me so much of the woody Rosaceae of the west (Cercocarpus, Purshia) not to mention Leucosidea and Cliffortia in South Africa, and too many Eurasians to enumerate--would love to see a cladogram of Rosaceae and see if these are related as they look...
|Ribes cf. lehmanii
Looks exactly some of ours. Had no idea there were so many Ribes in the Andes! Like Hypericum and Berberis--a strangely familiar echo of our flora.
We did see this several times. We saw a lot more of the invasive Himalayan species on the paramo--very similar to the scourges of the West Coast of the U.S. This one seemed very seemly.
I stumbled on only one plant of this catchfly--which was quite reminiscent of some of our alpine sorts and other Eurasian species--another temperate climate link
Of course, dead nettles are common in South Africa--although the bulk of the genus is unquestionably Mediterranean and Irano-Turanian. But great to find a familiar face! We saw this several times--not rare!
Nothing like this in the temperate zone: huge clumps of orchids all over the bald, rocky hillside!
Several similar caryophylls can be found all over the Northern Hemisphere--another of our "link" species..
And then there were bromeliads--not just Puya: not something you'd stumble upon in the Rockies!
Almost looking like some Pacific Northwestern blueberries--this robust species grew everywhere, often a meter or more tall!
Werneria (Rockhausenia) nubigena
|15,000' trailhead (with Barbara Young)
|Cotopaxi from the plane
The last glimpse of Cotopaxi from our airplane on our 32 hour trip home. A direct flight Quito-Denver would have only been five or six hours long...but we took a creative route from Galapagos--getting into and out of six boats, two or three buses, four plane departures and landings and quite a few hours sitting around two airports. Not that I'm complaining or anything!
P.S. aside from the paramo, we spent time in and around Quito--which is in altogether a different ecosystem almost resembling chaparral), four days in the incredible cloud forest and of course the Galapagos--a mecca for all Darwinists [of which I am one]. The whole trip exceeded my fond expectations--my gratitude to Denver Botanic Gardens for making it happen, Sheridan Samano and Reefs to Rockies for mapping it out and our Ecuadorian tour company and leaders Antonio Jaramillo and Fabian Romero and my fellow tour travelers whose enthusiasm and company made the trip a hoot!