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Andreas Fleischmann

The Chimantá Massif - Amurí-tepui

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Buenas,

So I will start with my travel reports from the recent tour in Venezuela (after Fernando kept sending me several little hints to do so ;)).

The Chimantá massif (or Macizo del Chimantá) is an extensive huge clefted sandstone mountain system consisting of several seperate tepuis of different altitudes.

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This is the eastern cliff of Acopán-tepui (or Akopan), which is part of the SE section of Chimantá massif, viewed from the Indian village of Yunék.

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The Chimantá massif is divided into two sections by a large valley (ranging from NE to SW) that is formed by the Río Tírica (or Rio Tirika) and which is entirely covered by evergreen tropical rainforest. This is a view from the helicopter flying over the lower south-eastern section, the higher north-western section is partly covered in clouds.

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The rainforest covers the lower parts at the base of the tepuis, whereas the summit of the plateaus are covered by tepui scrub vegetation and low tepui forests.

Chimantá massif is the species richest and most diverse tepui massif of the Guayana Highlands, with one of the highest rates of endemism among all tepuis (equaling to Neblina).

We got dropped at Amurí-tepui, which is the south-western part of the SE section of Chimantá massif. Actually, Amurí is just one of two “arms” of the large Acopán-tepui (the other arm to the NE is called Churí-tepui).

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This is a view from a low plateau summit of Amurí, to the SW-facing cliffs of adjacent Acopán-tepui. In the back, on the opposite site of the valley, the central section of Chimantá massif with Toronó-tepui in the front, and the high plateau of Chimantá tepui in the back.

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Another view of the scenery. The summit of Amurí is covered with large solitary rocks, labyrinths of stones, ravines and cracks. To the right the plateau of adjacent Acopán-tepui, in front a view over Chimantá-tepui.

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The highest summit plateaus of Amurí (in the back) reach to about 2250 m alt., the lower plateau we had been to is about 2000 m. Some parts of Amurí are covered by dense tepui scrub forest, which is hard to cross. Can you spot the Spot climbing amongst shrubs on this photo? ;)

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The more open vegetation consist of tepui “meadows” of hard-leaved sturdy plants. They often have shiny, waxy surfaces, or are iridescent, which is a beautiful glistening view in the low morning sun.

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The most common and dominant plants in these meadows are species of Brocchinia (Bromeliaceae), Stegolepis (Rapateaceae) as well as different shruby Melastomataceae, Asteracea and Ericaceae. Note the yellow “tubes” of Brocchinia reducta!

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Flowering Brocchinia reducta.

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A tuft of Stegolepis ligulata. Like in all species of the monocot genus Stegolepis, the leaves are formed in distichous “fans”: one side of the leaves is showing their upper side, the other one is showing the lower side. In this species, this is especially striking, as the upper side of the leaf is covered with a shiny waxy surface that is iridescent blue, whereas the lower surface in not iridescent and pale yellowish-green.

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The blue iridescence of the leaves of Stegolepis ligulata.

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A different species of Brocchinia, B. acuminata. This species is not carnivorous like B. reducta, but hosting ants in the interior of its hollow swollen leaf-sheats.

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I knocked on a B. acuminata, at the aggressive ants came out to defend their host-plant at once. In the background flowers of Heliamphora pulchella.

In the wetter parts of the summit, Heliamphora pulchella was quite common.

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H. pulchella loves to grow in very wet conditions. We found lots of plants growing in pools of stagnant water, usually with the water level reaching just to the pitcher mouth.

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H. pulchella growing together with Drosera roraimae and Genlisea repens (yellow flowers). I will not show the species of Genlisea we found here, but in a separate topic.

More H. pulchella:

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In contrast to the closely related H. minor from Auyán-tepui, which has a lid from a conspicuous narrow and elongated base, the lid of H. pulchella (endemic to the Chimantá massiv and neigbouring Aprada massiv) is almost sessile to the pitcher margin.

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A large and showy colony of H. pulchella.

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The nodding flowers of H. pulchella consist of four (rarely five) tepals. The inflorescence scape and pedicel are always densely pubescent. This is another good character to distinguish it from H. minor (which has a glabrous scape, just the pedicels are pubescent, too).

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The private parts of a H. pulchella flower.

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Herbivore feeding on a carnivore. ;)

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Ledothamnus luteus (Ericaceae – Heath Family), another endemic to the Chimantá massif.

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The large striking flowers of Maguireothamnus speciosus (Rubiaceae – Coffee Family) have a long slender tube, are sweetly parfumed and pollinated by nocturnal hawk moths at night. However we did observe some nectar eaters and hummingbirds visiting these flowers during the daytime, too.

The Chimantá massif is home to some rare and strange woody Asteraceae, too. The genus Chimantea does exclusively grow there.

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Chimantea eriocephala

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Stomatochaeta cymbifolia, closely related to Chimantea.

In moist sandy places, Drosera arenicola var. arenicola was common:

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It often grew together with a nice member of Eriocaulaceae (Pipeworth Family) – Rodonanthus acopanensis.

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The small creeping stems of Rodonanthus acopanensis always grow all in the same direction. Why? Don’t know ;)

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The only other species of sundew that grows on the plateaus of the Chimantá massiv is Drosera roraimae, however this species prefers much wetter conditions than D. arenicola.

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In humid and somewhat shadier places of low tepui forest, hughe plants of the tank bromeliad Brocchina reducta are growing. Some of them did host large Utricularia humboldtii.

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Note how the plant “re-colonizes” its bromeliad by long runners!

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U. humboldtii is one of the 3 species in the genus Utricularia to bear the biggest traps.

And it has the largest flowers in the whole genus:

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U. humboldtii flower enjoying the beautiful view ;)

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And that’s how we did sleep on Amurí. Not the worst place on earth (but among the wettest ;)) to pitch up a tent.

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An that's it. Sunset over Chimantá. Good night! ;)

All the best,

Andreas

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Thanks Andreas for the amazing pictures!!! What beautiful scenery!

Drosera arenicola var. arenicola

Does this mean you support the division into 2 varieties?

Best wishes,

Fernando

Edited by Fernando Rivadavia

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Hello Fernando,

Does this mean you support the division into 2 varieties?

Well, at least var. occidentalis looks different from the nominal variety ;). However I have to admit that I have not seen D. arenicola on the southern tepuis yet, thus I'm not fully aware of the variability or consistency of the characters that distinguish those two.

As long as noone convinces me from the contrary, I'll keep Steyermark's variety concept.

The plants of D. arenicola in cultivation originate from Duida, but match D. arenicola var. arenicola, not var. occidentalis. But maybe the latter is more widespread and not geographically restricted to the northern tepuis?!?

All the best,

Andreas

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Such a fantastic field report.

Not only the scenery is breathtaking but all the text and pictures are also very informative. I know a bit more about the non-carnivorous flora of the tepuis, now.

Thanks Andreas.

François.

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Hello Andreas,

I guess my argument against the separation is that in 1998/99 at Kavanayen -- which is the type location for D.arenicola -- I found a population that had plants covering the whole range of plant size and flower numbers (up to 14 flowers on a single scape of one plant!).

Best wishes,

Fernando Rivadavia

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Everything in your post is incredible...

Thanks for including some utric pics! I love humboldtii flowers.

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Great pics, thanks for going into detail about the landscape and all of the other plants that also live there.

I also found the pic of the U. humboldtii traps very interesting, as the plant seems to have produced a lot of similar size traps and then a few giant freaky ones.

Does anyone know if that's a common phenomenon with U. humboldtii?

Cheers

Steve

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hi andreas

amazing shots,all plants are just beauty....the sunset is exceptional !!!!!!

how long your trip lasted? this is the first time you go on chimanta?

good growing !!!!! :thanks:

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Fantastic Andreas. Truly amazing. Breathtaking. What is the process involved in a trip such as that? I am guessing the general public isn't allowed.

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Fantastic shots...the U.humboldtii flower and traps are absolutely stunning! Tepuis are such incredible habitat!

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Very nice pictures Andreas :thanks: and very familiar :tu:

Here a picture of the author in situ, together with two friends (Anja and Holger), just taking the above shots of H. pulchella.

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Regards

Martin

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Stunning report with very interesting info !!!

Thanks Martin for showing the author in situ :thanks:

It looks very sunny on the summit of these tepuis.

Thanks for sharing,

Iggy

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An absolutely fantastic report Andreas, brilliant pictures too. Huge thanks for sharing that with it :thanks:

Heather

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Hi Andreas

Fantastic Habitat report, I'm very glad to see some D. arenicola and U. humboldtii pictures.

I'd like to ask about some habitat parameters in case if you have paid attention to them: Did you take notes of the average temperature there?

I'm curious about the sun exposure the plants were receiving. The sun radiation was hard or was more bearable? I mean in the hottest hours of the day you have to cover yourself to prevent sunburns or it was mild and you could walk with no protection for your Skin?

I'll be glad if you can answer these questions for me.

Thanx for sharing your experience with us

Adilson

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Hi Andreas,

really a fantastic field report and wonderful pictures. :tu:

The landscape is unbelievable nice.

Fore sure all of you have had a nice time on this trip.

Of course mostly i like the D. arenicola var. arenicola pictures, wonderful red colouration. :P

Thanks for sharing. :yes:

Best regards,

Dani

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A great report and fantastic pictures..............I want to go back!

Thanks to this post I can now label a few more of my photos (I had forgotten the names of several of the non-carnivorous plants we saw)

Cheers

Andy

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I want to go back!

So what do you miss more Andy -

the cold stinky wet clothes? The Puri-Puri? Or the spam for dinner? :yes:

But yes - that is exactly what I thought when seeing the pics :tu:

Regards

Martin

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