I’m not going to say very much about this chapter – mostly, it’s a diary of a mostly uneventful trip across the plains, via a series of military outposts. I’m only planning on bringing up a few interesting anecdotes.
Darwin passes a high mountain, unexplored by any Europeans. Naturally, therefore, there were a lot of rumours. “Hence we heard of beds of coal, of gold and silver, of caves, and of forests, all of which inflamed my curiosity, only to disappoint.”
He discusses invasive species:
Near the Guardia we find the southern limit of two European plants, now become extraordinarily common. The fennel in great profusion covers the ditch-banks in the neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Monte Video, and other towns. But the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) has a far wider range: it occurs in these latitudes on both sides of the, Cordillera [mountain range along a coastline], across the continent. I saw it in unfrequented spots in Chile, Entre Rios, Banda Oriental. In the latter country alone, very many (probably several hundred) square miles are covered by one mass of these prickly plants, and are impenetrable by man or beat. Over the undulating plains, where these greats beds occur, nothing else can now live. Before their introduction, however, the surface must have supported, as in other parts, a rank herbage. I doubt whether any case is on record of an invasion on so grand a scale of one plant over the aborigines.
March 26, 2009 at 8:26 pm Comments (0)