Expedition to Investigate the Central Bolivian
Original Collection Site

of La Rinconada Victorias
Text by Tonchi Ribero -- Photos by Chiqui Arroyo
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Page 2

Tonchi Ribero and Raul Ortuño
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< Continued from page 1

To take samples and to measure the Victorias we had to swim over. I left all my clothes on, including my shoes, to go in, because the water and the surrounding and floating vegetation did not look very friendly to me. Raul put on his shorts and helped me to take samples of the leaves. Chiqui was taking pictures and defining our position with GPS. When we came out of the first collection of leaves, Raul was covered with leeches which didn't want to leave his skin. The coordinates of the Victorias' location are: 14º 51' 14.7" S and 65º 9' 0.8" W at 161 to 200 meters above sea level. 

The two plants that we measured were 2.20 m. across, but some of the leaves in the middle of the pond looked like 2.50 and 2.60 across. We took samples of a reddish Victoria on one side of the road and of a green one on the other. Sorry we could not take any more because it was too deep (more than 2 meters) to take the chance to go swimming for others. Besides, it was already close to 6:00 pm., turning dark and we had to go back on the bad road. Not to mention the millions of mosquitoes around that made working almost unbearable.

The largest plants
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Tonchi almost drowning "on duty"
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View from the bridge
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Gallareta on board
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Beautiful flower
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Leaf detail
When going back to Trinidad everything was fine except that we almost got stuck again on one part of the road, when I drove off the driest part of it to take a picture to illustrate and impress you about how bad the road was.

Tijamuchi River at sunset ^
Almost stuck >

Tonchi, Chiqui and Raul at the
Mamore River on the way back

The next day we came back to Santa Cruz, collecting some very nice water and bog plants that grow on the sides of the road: Cyperus, Heliconia, Costus, etc., and what looks like a red flowering water Salvia that makes beautiful red patches in the middle of the ponds and that, with the other collected plants, I can hardly wait to see growing at my place. Gallery

Because of their location in the Beni region of Bolivia, the Victorias at the collection site are presumed to be V. amazonica until proven otherwise. One of the experts we consulted about these images wrote:

"It is tough to make any distinctions among the plants in these photos. The ones on one side of the road seem to have less of a rim than the ones on the other, but they are growing under less-crowded conditions. Some leaves have less red coloration than others, but this could be a matter of age. Nothing really jumps out at me, but the population doesn't really involve that many individuals.

"It can also be possible, as was demonstrated by E. O. Beal with Nuphar in the Carolinas, that there is a range of (potential) variation contained in the seeds of a population but for some unknown reason there is selective survival of only one morphotype. Under the artificial conditions at La Rinconada, both morphotypes could have survived.

"Sounds like they had a pretty exciting day, in any case!"

In short, even with the images from the collection site and Tonchi's commentary, we still don't know for sure what they and La Rinconada's Victorias are! Leaf samples of both groups of plants are on their way to us as we write this and, hopefully, DNA studies will tell us more about them.

Kit & Ben Knotts

< Page 1
Additional images from this expedition Gallery 1 | Gallery 2
< La Rinconada Victorias, Santa Cruz, Bolivia -- What Are They?
The Largest Victoria Pads Ever Recorded!

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