Dave Looks for Plants

Journal of a plant explorer

Reserva Maycu and Shaime Village

This day we drove back past Las Orquídeas the north to go to the Reserva Maycu and the Shuar village of Shaime. The last time I was in this area was in 2009, and the only way to get a car across the river to the east side was by ferry.  That year we were staying at the Yankuam Lodge, took a boat across from there and walked on up the road a couple of kilometers.

 

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Now there is a new bridge at the same location.  It is adorned with a beautiful statue at the top recognizing the Shuar heritage of the region.  A multi-lingual sign at the site tells the Shuar legend of the bearded men with big eyes who came seeking the golden chair of Arutam.

 

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There is also a protected area a few km to the east of the bridge called Reserva Maycu where there is still good primary forest right along the road.  Here we found many more plants of the same form of Costus aff. zamoranus we had seen near Las Orquídeas.   Here the plants were growing in sticky grey shale clay, and all the inflorescences were covered with detrius that was apparently cultivated there by the omnipresent ants.  The flowers were similar to those from the type location at Valladolid, but the bracts have a distinctive red margin and a dark red nectar callus.  More photos of the details of this form can be found on my THUMBNAIL SHEET.

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 We followed the road as it winds back to the river to the north and then went back across by boat to the Shaime village.  Someone there had reported a blue flowered Costus, but we could not find her to ask about it and we ultimately concluded that it must have been one of the Costus amazonicus plants with a deeper purplish color.  We walked through some small remnant forest areas but most of the area around the village has been deforested and made into pasture land.

 

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Back across the river we saw several non-flowering plants that are most likely the yellow flowering form of Dimerocostus strobilaceus subsp. strobilaceus, the same as what is cultivated and growing in front of the Yankuam Lodge (photo below).

 

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 From there we headed back to Zamora but there was one piece of unfinished business.  Along the entrance road among all the thousands of plants of the white flowered Costus aff. guanaiensis, Marco Jr. had spotted a pure pink flowered plant along the road as we sped by.  On our way back out of the area we were looking for that plant and had decided in advance it should be named Costus ‘Pink Floyd’.  Marco Sr. had told how in his younger days he was a  fan of the rock group but after he got married all his albums disappeared and were replaced by more traditional Ecuadorian music and religious music.

Sure enough, just as we were about to reach the road construction and leave the Nangaritza watershed, there it was.   If successfully propagated, this will be registered  with the cultivar name ‘Pink Floyd’.   There was some Costus amazonicus growing just across the road and I am thinking this is probably a hybrid with that species.  More photos on the THUMBNAIL PAGE.

 

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As mentioned earlier, this area is booming and they are improving the old gravel road by widening it and replacing with a modern concrete roadway.  We were delayed by an hour and a half as the road was closed for the construction until 5 PM that afternoon.

 

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