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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Etching 2 Capoes from Martius's Flora Brasiliensis 1840. Thanks to Lehigh U., Special Collections ! Color by Alberto and C. Miranda Chor 

#2 Small woods called Capoes in the province of Minas Gerais.

Latin translation by Ben Hennelly

The form of forest you see depicted in this illustration will show you the appearance of the vegetation that predominates in a large part of the provinces of Sao PauloMinasGoyazana and Bahia, as well as here and there in the interior parts of the maritime provinces that take their name from Rio de Janeiro (1)Espirito Santo and Porto Seguro. Its whole outward appearance differs greatly from other kinds of forest, and for this reason the Tupinambaza indians gave it a name by which its primary characteristics are emphasized; for it is called "Caa-apoam" by those indians. This word has been corrupted by the Portuguese into "Capoes". 

Since these woods often have a rounded, clearly defined circumference and the trees situated within are taller than those along the edge, a vaulted appearance meets the viewer. They especially occupy low-lying, humid places, valleys and marshes, and on account of the plentiful moisture they do not loose their leaves even in the hot season of the year, but are bright throughout the whole year with the beautiful splendor of their foliage. Therefore the botanist also only rarely enters the damp and pleasant shadows of these woods without finding some excellent plants flourishing and, if it were not often to be feared that you might come across a python or crocodile, then to collect plants in those groves could be called nothing but a pleasant undertaking, and least of all a troublesome labor. 

I observed the forms you see represented in etching #2, kind reader, most of all in the southern part of the province of Minas, near the rivers Servo and Sapucahy. There the thin trunks of Prunus sphaerocarpusnext to Guatteria rufa from Capt. George Cook's Botanial Cabinet 1817. Thanks to Lehigh U., Special Collections !Coccoloba crescentiaefolia, which has dense foliage, are presented to you in the way that they are sketched in the left front part of the etching, or Palicurea tetraphyllaIlex Gongonha, which in the land of Minas is used for tea in the place of genuine Ilex paraguariensis, and Xylopia longiflora, whose bitterly aromatic fruit is used in the medical shops of the Brazilians equally with Piper aethiopicum. You will see all these trees depicted in front toward the right. It will far surpass the limits of our plan to adduce all the rest of the genera of trees which very frequently present themselves to you here; for this reason I will mention only some genera of trees that predominate in these regions, such as Inga adiantifolia from Bonpland and Humboldt's Nova genera et species plantarum, Paris 1821. Thanks to Lehigh U., Special Collections !RolliniaGuatteriaXylopiaSapiumPeridiumIngaCupaniaNectandraSchinusCombretumLeandraHuberiaMiconiaAnthodonCaseariaMyrciaEugeniaTabernae montana. Let these suffice. Just one thing remains for me to add: these woods more nearly approach, with regard to the beauty of their form and the nature of the genera and species of which they consist, the appearance and the plant make- up of that kind of forest which arises from a primitive forest after it has been cut down and left to itself. The inhabitants call these woods "Caa-apuera"(child of the ancient one). On the other hand, they differ more widely from that primitive forest which the Brazilians call "Mato-Virgem", or "Catete"; even the oldest never rise to that forest's height or magnificence. 

#2 of 42 expedition commentaries