Saturday, 17 January 2015

Brazilian Odyssey

A fascinating talk about the habitats and wildlife of Brazil was presented by Barbara and Peter Murphy, who have visited the area many times and taken some wonderful photographs.

On a cold, grey Friday, we were transported to Brazil, fifth largest country in the world, most of which is below the equator.  The regions we found out about were the Amazon, the Pantanal and the Cerrado.
The Amazon with its rainforest and oxbow lakes supports lots of plant species and wildlife although the increasing areas of the rainforest being cleared for cattle are not fertile for plants and crops.  On the river colourful Amazonian kingfishers, white winged swallows and the green ibis can be seen as well as the giant river otter and the alligator lookalike, the caiman.  Another interesting phenomenon in this area is butterfly puddling where a huge number of male butterflies descend on a muddy patch to extract minerals.  In the rainforest are monkeys, lizards and snakes and different species of the stunning Helicona which can only be pollinated by humming birds.
In contrast, the Pantanal is tropical wetland and the flood plains support the yellow or pink tabebuia, which can flower up to three times in one dry season, giant water lilies of 18” in diameter and the erythrina, the seeds of which are dispersed by floating on the water.  Here hyacinth parrots, savannah hawks and snail kites can be seen as well as mammals such as deer, caimans and jaguars.
The Cerrado was once under the sea and is the largest savannah in South America.  Here can be found unique plants with leathery leaves such as the caryocer and the paepalanthus.  Other wildlife found here are the armadillo wasp, the tanager, oven birds and giant anteaters which feed on the many termite mounds.
Display Table
The pink and white cyclamen brought in by Dorothy came with the useful tip of removing the soil from the plant after it dies down and repotting when growth reappears.  This prevents the plant being attacked by weevils 
Maggie M’s 3 year- old cyclamen is kept in the conservatory
Ann showed us a Banksia fruit which she brought back from Western Australia.  Some plants grow on bushes and some sprout straight from the ground.  Also displayed are some ornaments made from the fruit
Gill’s pot contained an assortment of winter, spring and autumn flowering plants which are all out in her garden now.  Included are a rose Buff Beauty, Bacopia from a hanging basket, winter aconite, snowdrops, iris reticulata, cyclamen coum, winter flowering honeysuckle and Pachyphragma macrophylla.  
 Our visiting speaker, Peter Murphy, told us about the winter heliotrope which flowers in January and February but is invasive.

Notice Board
James reminded us about collecting plastic bottle tops for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance charity.
Dorothy advised us that there are still few places left on a trip to the Eden Project.    
Next Meeting
February 6th: AGM, free raffle and an interactive discussion on gardening in dry and damp shade so bring your ideas or problems.

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