Jour. Hort. Soc. London 3: 249-258 (1848)
XXVI.— Contributions to a History of the Relation between Climate and Vegetation in various parts of the Globe.
No. 8.— The Vegetation of the Diamond and Gold districts, in the Province of Minas Geraes, in Brazil.
By George Gardner, F.L.S., Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Ceylon
A residence of about three weeks in the Diamond country enabled me to make large additions to my Herbarium. Various excursions were made in all directions to the valleys, the ravines, and the mountain tops, every one of them yielding desirable acquisitions. The more remarkable of these were as follows: a beautiful Luxemburgia, several purple-flowered Vellozias, one of them a stemless species with narrow leaves, very much resembling Crocus vernus, Diplusodon rolundfolius, and an other narrow-leaved species, two kinds of Lupin, one of them a fine shrub about six feet high, with small silky entire leaves and short spikes of blue flowers (Lupinus parvifolius, Gardn.), two species of Angelonia, one of them a sufl'ruticose plant with very large flowers, numerous Melaslomaceae, the Lavoisierias and Marcetias being particularly handsome from their elegant habit, small leaves, and large flowers, of many colours, but rose is the most common; several Barbacenias, a few curious Eriocaulons, several Ferns, one of them a fine Carsebeera (C. gleichenioides, Gardn.), a slender Wahlenbergia, the only Campanulaceous plant I met with during the whole of my travels in Brazil; numerous species of Vaccinium, or rather Gaylussacias, one of them a truly splendid plant with long crimson flowers; two species of Physocalyx, on bare rocks; abundance of the purple-flowered Laelia, which I previously met with, two species of Rubus, a Kielmeyera, a Vochysia, numerous Composites, such as Vernonias, various remarkable kinds of erect Mikania, several of Baccharis, Trixis, Albertinia, the strange Lychnocephalus tomentosus, Mart., and many kinds of Lychnophora. These latter, together with the Vellozias, are so abundant and so peculiar in habit, that they give quite a character to the Diamond country. The Vellozias were well named by Martius when he called them tree-lilies. They vary very much in size, often reaching to the height of twelve feet and upwards. The large ones are not unlike screw-pines in habit. Their stems, which are little more than a loose tissue of roots, and which show beautifully the plan upon which all stems are formed, rise several feet before they branch, and when they do so it is in a dichotomous manner. They are destitute of leaves, except at the ends of the branches, where a long tuft of them exists. The flowers spring out of the centre of these, and are thrown free of the leaves by being borne upon a long peduncle. The flowers of the larger species are about six inches long, and in shape not unlike those of Lilium candidum. Seldom have I seen an object more beautiful than one of these when in full bloom. I was the first to introduce this genus to the hot houses of England, but as they were raised from seeds, and as they are but slow of growth, and impatient of cultivation, it may reasonably be supposed that they will be a long time before exhibiting the beauty of their wild progenitors. The soil in which they grow in their native country is generally of a fer ruginous gravelly nature, and well drained; and the climate is one of the clearest and coolest in tropical Brazil. Those which I collected near the Cidade Diamantina, as well as all the other plants I have mentioned, were found where the thermometer ranged from 54 to 60° Fahr. The only trees in the of the vicinity city are cultivated ones, and the most handsome of them all was the noble Araucaria Braziliensis, some of which must have been about sixty or seventy feet high. I was particularly struck with two plants, which grew profusely in most places, and by roadsides round the city—two exiles from Europe, Urtica urens, Linn., and Arctium Lappa, Linn. The time may come, when Brazil has botanists of her own, that they will claim these as true denizens of their soil, in the same manner that some of the would-be botanists of England are claiming for her more than is legitimately hers.