#38 A dewy forest on the ridge of Serra d'Estrella, in the province of Sebastianopolis, today the State of Rio de Janeiro.
Latin translation by Ben Hennelly
From the ridge of granite or foliaceous granite that forms the Serra d'Estrella, numerous streams flow down through narrow chasms. Amidst rocks scraped from oldest memory by the force of the waters, and therefore made smooth, lies ground now of red mud, which we mentioned last in connection to etching #37, and now of thin, black soil. The fecundity of that soil, the mild climate and the gentle warmth of the air, into which rise both vapors from the sea and exhalations from rapid fountains -- all these things bring it about that the entire multitude of plants is resplendent with a perennial abundance of leaves, and offers the traveler very welcome coolness above the roar of the torrents. The accurate art of our illustrator, Benjamin Mary, represents such a setting very well. Here you lack those tall trees that shade the sides of the mountains.You see only smaller shrubs and bushes between the rocks and sticking up above them, or the ones that hang down from the peaks of nearby trees in impenetrable arbors and extremely thick garlands, which often entwine the structure of the branches in such a way that they wrap around altogether the other species of foliage. Hardly anything like this is seen in Europe, even in the most hidden recesses of the forests, unless you happen to recall some group of very aged pines that, untouched by the axe, have been wrapped from above in a dense weaving of lichens (Usnea barbata, Evernia jubata) or Clematis.
In this region of #38, those Tillandsiae recurbatae, which are small-stemmed with broad, hairy leaves, and several other similar species take the place of our lichens, veiling the foliage with a supple hoariness across vast areas. Garlands of phanerogamic plants -- namely, Mikaniae, Serjanae, Paulliniae, various Bignoniaceae -- are distinguished by their varied condition of greenness and differing abundance of fragrant flowers.
Then there are Cucurbitaceae, Convolvulaceae and wrapping Rubiaceae (Sabicea, Emmeorhiza) and Apocyneae (Echites, Parsonsia, etc.). From the Rubiaceae are commonly found also some that are not wrapped: such as Palicoureae, Psychotriaeand Augustae, near the torrents; further, unless I err, the illustrator has also presented an herbaceous plant of this Coccocypselus -- whose deep-blue berries and rosy leaves hold the botanist's attention -- crawling across the muddy wall that covers over a heap of rocks on the viewer's left. Here are Costus, Begonia with its slanting leaves, and Nephrolepsis neglecta; then on the edge of this side, right next to the water, is a fern, Asplenium regulare, which is seen very often in these humid defiles both standing up high and hanging down from trees. Beside the long-stretching foliage of Nephrolepsis appears Polypodium crassifolium and a large clump of Asplenium Nidi whose fronds, divided in the manner of a full basket, often fill six feet in length there. The small tree with broad leaves that rises behind the fern seems to be Coccoloba.
In front on the other side, to the right, you again will see several moisture-loving ferns: Diplazium pulcherrimum, Aspidium violascens, and Blechnum brasiliense, this one sticking up above the ground with a short stem. In back the artist meant to depict a broad-leafed bush of Vernoniae, and a bush of Erythroxylus with thick foliage. Whether the large clumps of long, pointed leaves are Bromeliaceaem Monocotyledon, or Irideae, or Cyperaceae, I shall leave undecided. Profuse garlands of very dense vines shade the edge of the etching in such a way that the few branches of the Urostigma tree, endowed with large leaves, are scarcely able to break through to the light of the sky. In these valleys filled with moist air, you will often find tree leaves and branches covered with Jungermanniae and the cobwebby covering of Coenogonium Linkii, which is of a nature ambiguous between that of algae, lichen and fungus, developed to a varying degree. Nearer the equator in a similar place Cora pavonia occurs in a similar manner, as if a parasite.
Etching commentary 38