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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Capao, tree groves


capoes of Minas Novas; the highest plains and hills are stripped of any vegetation except a few feet of isolated cacti and herbs, or low thicket thickets. All these plants belong to the formation of catinga, because in the drought they lose their leaves and only recover them at the entrance of the rainy season. Only in the wet varieties do the plants conserve their foliage all year round; In other parts of the region, the life of the leaves depends so much on the humidity that sometimes, it is said, two or three years elapse, without re-greening of apparently dead trees. The wood does not cease to produce sap during the defoliation period, and loses its flexibility only in the branches, which do not die at all; It continually exudes resinous and gummy substances and the like, proving that the life of the root and trunk is subjected to poor periodicity and to some extent independent of the elaboration of the sap on the leaves, which continually survive after the bald periods. Sprouting of the leaves is therefore wonderful, for as soon as it rains, sprouting in the shortest possible time, is done as if by charm.

Etching 10 Catinga forest, semi-arid

About this uniqueness of the vegetation of the Catingas we were often convinced, for in the midst of the arid backwoods, where all the plants were without leaves, we saw stretches of forest and meadow, which boasted the most beautiful spring green. These tracks had received, as we have been told, partial showers, and so, unexpectedly, the showers had convinced the nearby regions to unbutton their shoots. The bud development process, which in our climate lasts for several weeks, takes place here in one or two days, and the young shoots rest completely, sometimes many months, until the buds develop. Moreover, this particularity of the catingas forests also seems to be due to the organization of the leaves, since they are here thicker than in any other region, with a thick white hair felt or relatively thinner and drier weft. Also the structure of the roots and trunk is perhaps more commonly suited to the uniqueness of this soil than our observations so far had made known. An example of what we have just said

Spondias tuberosa

Spondias tree

is the bush (Spondias tuberosa, Arr.), whose horizontally scattered roots, almost like flowers of the earth, swell into knotty tubules the size of a fist and even a child's head and, hollow inside, fill with water. We sometimes open these unique wineskins to satisfy the thirst of pack animals, and sometimes find more than half a "Mass" (1) of liquid in one root. The water, very clear or somewhat opaline, although warm and generally

(1) "Mass" = old Bavarian measure of drinks. (Rev. note, Ed. Melh.).

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