In the fall of 2014 I was asked by Peter Breslin if I would like to go to Isla de Cedros on his dime (well it was research money) and I had to think about the offer for all of about 0.3 seconds, and after my feet touched back down on the ground, I said “sure”. This was to be my second trip there and I was excited to see many of my favorite plants with Agave sebastiana chief among them. The trip would come at a cost though since Peter was going to do some work for his PhD project and measure plants of Cochemia pondii, Echinocereus maritimus and Ferocactus chrysacanthus and I, along with Michelle Cloud-Hughes, were recruited to help with the measuring. I considered this a small price to pay for the chance to get back there.
The adventure began on December 27, 2014 when Michelle drove down to Tucson, we loaded all the gear in my truck and set off down I-10 towards Yuma, Arizona where we would turn south and make the crossing at San Luis. From there we headed across towards Mexicali and turned south on of Mexico Highway 5 towards San Felipe. Michelle wanted to see Cylindropuntia sanfelipensis so we headed up Mexico Highway 3 to check out some plants and then on to find a campsite. After a freezing night, we had some breakfast, loaded up the truck and got the hell out of there, heading for some, hopefully, warmer weather. We met up with Peter in Guerrero Negro and kicked back until we would head over to the airport the next day.
After decent night’s sleep at a cheap motel, we moseyed over to the airport a little early so we would not miss the flight, but no need to worry about that since the plane was well over 1 hour late. The arrival at the airport on Isla de Cedros was uneventful, which is a good thing, and we got a taxi to take us into town and to the Hotel Zammar. The next item on the agenda was to make contact with Pelon Toba and get set up with a boat ride to Punta Norte where we would set up camp for two nights so we could measure plants and wander around looking at all the cool plants.
Here we see a smattering of the colorful buildings in the town of Cedros which is situated at the base of the mountains on the southwestern side of the island.
Peter, Michelle and I spent the first night at Hotel Zammar and then headed off early in the morning for our grand adventure to Punta Norte and our first day of work.
On the boat ride up to Punta Norte, we see some elephant seals hanging out on the rocky shore, so we make a slight detour to get a closer look.
The first day at Punta Norte involved setting up our tents in preparation for the misty, windy night to come, and then learning which characters Peter wanted to measure, measuring a total of 30 plants each of Cochemia pondii and Ferocactus chrysacanthus, and finally having the chance to hike around snapping photos of anything and everything.
With a big smile on his face, Peter was quite happy to see Cochemia pondii, with their bright red flowers. Taking the measurements of spine length and tubercle height was a bit of a challenge, but we got those done and moved on to the Ferocactus chrysacanthus.
At Punta Norte, Ferocactus chrysacanthus plants were easily spotted with many being within throwing distance of the surrounding water.
Not only did we have to measure the length of the longest central spine and the height of the curve, we had to count the number of spines including those pesky bristle-like spines. With our work for the day done, it’s play time. Peter and I set off for the highest point nearby where we expect to encounter Dudleya pachyphytum all the while seeing scores of Agave sebastiana, Ferocactus chrysacanthus, Echinocereus maritimus and other intriguing plants.
Unknown Daisy relative
Windswept Pachycormus discolor.
The red spined form of Ferocactus chrysacanthus.
So naturally, my main plant of interest was none other than Agave sebastiana. On a previous trip (May 2011) with Brian Kemble, we saw hundreds of plants with flower stalks as we were on the boat ride to Punta Norte, but only one plant in flower once we got to Punta Norte where we hiked all around. This time around (early January) we saw hundreds of flower stalks, but none were in bloom yet. Next time, maybe a mid-March trip will be the one, but for now we had to be satisfied with the beautiful plants themselves. Hope you enjoy the pictures.
I like the vertical rows of leaves on this one.
Probably a month or so early for the start of flowering and maybe two months for peak bloom.
Dozens of old flower stalks from the previous year or two (or more).
Beautiful teeth abound on this specimen.
Colorful teeth are the order of the day for this one.
The dramatic clouds make for a great background.
Agave sebastiana plants littered the hillside.
Hah! within spitting distance of the water.
We pitched our tents near the water so we could enjoy the soothing sounds of crashing waves while being surrounded by the awesome rosettes of Agave sebastiana.
Unfortunately, this guy was a party animal and kept up a ruckus well into the night, making sleep a challenge until he decided to crash for the night.
I think this is the same plant that Brian Kemble and I found during our visit in 2011!!!
After finishing our measurements of plants and playing on the island, it was time to leave and get back to the peninsula since we had another island to visit. So we hire a taxi to get us to the airport, and take a quick peek at the salt piles near the airport while waiting for the plane to arrive.
The salt is extracted by evaporation from the ocean near Guerrero Negro on the Baja California peninsula. This facility produces more than 7 million metric tons of salt a year.
The time had come and we had to bid adieu to this wonderful piece of real estate sitting in the Pacific Ocean just of the coast of the Baja California peninsula since we had another crazy, island adventure calling our names!
I’m looking forward to a return trip to Isla de Cedros when the Agave sebastiana will be in full flower.
For another source of pictures, check out the agavaceae.com website.
Hope you enjoyed the post and pictures! Until next time!