Tecophilaea rediscovered

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Fri, 02 Apr 2004 08:25:33 PST
Rodger Whitlock wrote,I hope everyone will forgive me for being such a 
cynic, but I
>wouldn't be surprised to read that this population [of Tecophilaea] has 
>already been
>collected out of existence by unscrupulous nurserymen.
>It is to be hoped that the government of Chile mounts effective guard
>over this precious treasure.

This gives me a chance to quote one of John Watson's best lines (I'm 
quoting from memory, so this may not be utterly verbatim), to the effect 
that the assumed extinction of T. cyanocrocus was "more likely to have 
resulted from overgrazing than from spade-wielding peasants in the pay of 
villainous Dutchmen." The habitat of this plant has been subjected to 
cattle and goat grazing at a level utterly unsustainable in such an arid 
environment for more than three centuries, so that in many areas little 
remains but seriously spiny shrubs and unpalatable plants such as the 
cushion umbellifers.

In fact, Chile has an active conservation community, although excluding 
local pastoralists from sensitive sites is very difficult for them. One 
result of this activism is extreme difficulty in getting permits to take 
native plant material out of Chile, including seeds.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon

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