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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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The plantations are flourishing here, but very subject to devastations by the ants (1).

Brazilian crazy ant

The excursions through the surrounding Ega introduced us to the vegetation, very different from the one we observed in Coari. Instead of the fields and the low forest, they see dense virgin forests, similar to those of Barra do Rio Negro and Solimoes. However, this region also has its peculiarities, among which I point out a Mirtacea, Eugenia egensis, by the Indians called araca-rana, that is; "guava brava". These pleasant shrubs round the clear sandy fringes of the lake in the distance, and now, all covered with fresh, perfumed flowers, remind us of our European fruit trees at the time of blossoming. In the plateau of Brazil, Peru and Jamaica, many species of mirtaceae appear with small leaves and in the equatorial rivers of the new continent, others form a predominant part of the vegetation of the shoreline with large leaf species. In this sense one could compare the mirtaceas of America with those of Europe.

The virgin forests at the bottom of the landscape, behind the village, become so much drier, cleaner and taller, the further they move away from the shore. As the soil is formed of considerable layers of red clay, the red fine-grained stoneware is rarely seen near the colored clay. In these leaner woods, I saw colossal trunks, particularly

Ficus,

Lecythis,

Bertholletias,

Caryocares,

and Lauraceas;

on the other hand, only a little underbrush. One can easily appreciate here the gigantic stems and the roots scattered in a star shape, out of the earth,

distinguishing one another from the leafy canopies. It is not uncommon for the trunks to reach 120 feet in height, 15 in diameter above the root. Formidable wooden ears arise from the decay of the fallen branch, and the great trees are covered,

like those of the virgin forests of Bahia and Rio, with immense parasites. Uncommon animals animate these large, high forests: the monkeys chase each other with screams on the summits;

Caititus

and Quatis

in droves are on the ground, and the jacus ly from branch to branch.

Jacu, the Penelope jacatinga

The forest of the bank (caa-igapo), along the narrow flat strip of the river's edge and the canals, which extend into the interior, are lower, more closed and dirty. The lower part of the trunks, devoid of branches, is lined with a thinner bark, and all

(1) An old Indian complained bitterly to me, saying that the little that the Muras

had left him from the old days, were the mad ants (taciba cainane oae); this causes him the greatest regret, because he preferred to give his plantations to the people of his blood than to these little animals, which could not even be eaten; the crazy ants constitute one of the smaller species and are thus named for the incredible speed with which they run from one side to the other, in all directions.

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