The Carnivorous Plant FAQ Field Trip Report -

Southern Spain in 2011

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I had two days to spend looking for carnivorous plants, and the first day was dedicated to just one site--a supposed Drosophyllum population just outside of Algeciras, in the Parque Natural de los Alcornocales.

This region of Spain is spectacular. The land is rugged, with a mosaic of soil types derived from limestone, sandstone, and granite. The diversity of soils, exposures, and resulting microclimates is matched by the fabulous variety of wildflowers. Walking among them, it was like touring a never-ending xerophytic demonstration garden.

Driving to this site from the south, I encountered a gated and locked road closure a few km from the site. This was frustrating and unnerving. Fortunately, using my maps I circled around and dropped to the site from the north, avoiding the closure.

Parking the car, the three of us fanned out on the rocky slope to see what we could see. My site source said the plants would be easy to find. Unfortunately, I had made a critical error when I left the road--I headed up the wrong hillside. For two or three hours we scoured the hillside, at various elevations from the base to the top, looking for plants.

For all my efforts, I found only two or three scraggly Drosophyllum plants. A pleasure to see, but not quite what I was hoping for.

By the time that Beth took the photograph of me, above, I had taken to finding the highest point I could to assess the surrounding countryside, to look for likely nearby habitat.

This view shows what I was seeing. Knowing that Drosophyllum seemed to be a poor competitor, I looked for areas of the sort you see on the background-left hillside in that photograph. Do you see the exposed lines of rock? I hoped that kind of strata might be weathered sandstone, which produced the soils I was looking for.

That photograph also shows a pretty amazing rock formation, doesn't it? It is called La Montera del Torero, which refers to the little black hats that matadors wear.

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Revised: June 2011
©Barry Rice, 2005