> Volume 67
(March/April 2000, pages 59 - 62)
Begonia glabra in the Amazon Lowland Forest in Peru
by Jacques Jangoux
In the previous issue we published two articles where
growers from the Northem Hemisphere gave details of the problems
they had experienced with mildew during their recent summer season. As it
will not be too long before similar problems may well beset us here in the
south and we have not dealt in depth with this for some time, I would like
to examine some of the aspects relating to it.
At the end of September, 1998 1 did a trip to
photograph the rainforests of Peru. I was especially interested in the
ACEER (Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research) field
station (http://www.aceer.org/) where
a canopy walkway 400 m. (about 1200 ft.) long has been built (to see a
panoramic view of the canopy walkway, go to http://www.eds.com/community_affairs/jason/jX_vr_canopy_walk.shtml.
You will need Quick Time, which can be downloaded at http://www.apple.com/ - images take a
long time to load, so be patient! It can take many long minutes.)
It turned out that the ACEER field station is a
combination research and education station/tourist facility. An e-mail
sent to the address I had found in Tropinet, the newsletter of the
Association for Tropical Biology, forwarded me to International
Expeditions Inc., a tourist agency in Helene, Alabama (http://www.ietravel.com/;
800-633-4734). They were very efficient at organizing an individual trip
for me (They normally work with groups.) that took me from Iquitos to 3
forest lodges down the Amazon and up the Napo River: Explorama Lodge (50
miles, about 3 hours by boat), Explonapo Camp (another 50 miles down the
Amazon and up the Napo), and ACEER (1 hour hiking). (I usually plan my
trips myself, but this time my time was too short for it.) I highly
recommend this trip if you want to see the Amazon rainforest.
A funny thing is that to go from Belem at the mouth of
the Amazon, where I live, to the Peruvian Amazon I had to fly to Miami.
There used to be a combination flight Belem-Manaus-Tabatinga-Iquitos, but
for some reason (probably economical) it was cancelled. Anyway I was able
to do some shopping in Miami!
I found beautiful forest at all three
places with large trees and a rich palma flora, surprisingly little
disturbed by the constant flow of tourists, but no begonias. (Contrarily
to the Atlantic rainforest where I did most of my begonia photography in
the past, begonias are not abundant in the Amazon rainforest.) Until the
next to the last day at ACEER, that is. After a whole morning hiking in
the forest with my guide and taking pictures, I was gettmg back to the
camp; about 200 m. before reaching the camp, I finally ran into a scandent
begonia, which I first thought looked somewhat like B. convolvulacea
(but it was out of the Atlantic rainforest range, where I had seen and
photographed it); however, after research in the Smithsonian book,
Begoniaceae by Lyman B. Smith et al. (Smithsonian Contributions to
Botany, No. 60) turned out to be B. glabra. The identification was
further confirmed by consulting the Florula de las Reservas Biologicas
de Iquitos, Peru by Rodolfo Vasquez Martinez (Missouri Botanical
Garden, 1997). Of course I photographed it, and as I was close to the
lodge I went back the next morning before my departure to take a few more
photographs in a different light.
In the past I used to send actual slides to the
Begonian editor. This time I scanned my slides (using the Olympus
ES-10 film scanner; it's the cheapest model, but for properly exposed
pictures it does an adequate job) and I e-mailed the scans to the editor.
So here you have a mixture of one of the oldest forests in the world with
some of the most recent technology.
Jacques Jangoux has provided additional
begonia photos from his travels in Brazil and other