was told by Heitor Gloeden , on his book "A
Jóia da Bruxa" and is been reproduced with permission
of the editor.
I used to
go to Santa Angélica, next to Alegre, in the State of Espírito Santo,
in order to gather, between other plants, Cattleya warneri. My
headquarter was my father's old friend home, Sebastião de Matos Lima,
who lived in this small village. In my opinion, he was the best harvester
man my father had in Espírito Santo.
When we got somewhere, soon the news spread: the buyer of parasites was
in Bastião's home (1). My father was called "the German man" or "the
French man", they called me "the paulista" (2)
Everyone who felled the trees in order to plant coffee trees or cereal,
gathered the plants and put them on the trees, waiting for our arrival,
knowing that it was a way to get some money. We merely arrived and all
people came to offer their plants, some good, some ruined due to the fact
that they were badly picked or put in unsuitable places, under the sun
or in very shady places.
Buddies can not imagine how tough was to pick warneri on the trees
as the majority grows in big jequitibás (3) , perobeiras (4), fig trees
and other trees of incalculable width and height. It is rare to find them
on rocks or savannah (cerrados) but always in the higher regions of the
formidable range of mountains in the interior-south of the State of Espírito
Santo, without talking about the State of Minas Gerais. Besides, there
is the difficulty to carry them through the woods to the place of storing
before embarking to São Paulo.
Every time I was in Santa Angélica, in Bastião's home, a person came,
a small mulatto, Dito Getrudes, who offered himself to bring as many warneri
as I needed and always in a very small period of time. As we did to the
others, we also order him to bring a certain number of warneri.
And, in a nonsense punctuality of four days, he arrived with his wonderful
plants, well picked, well arranged, perfect leaves, free of diseases or
pests, in a such admirable vigor that seemed to be asymbiotically cultivated,
in an amazing care.
Thus, after three years, after winning his sympathy, we asked him to show
us his "nursery", as he used to call, always saying that it was far away.
But, how far, we thought, if in four days, religiously, he came with five
or six hundreds wonderful plants?
After many fights and evasive, followed by a offer of a doubled-barrelled
pistol "380" as a gift (I always brought double-barrelled pistols, pocket-knife
and other odds and ends to exchange with plants - by those times, every
thing was easy, nothing was forbidding), he acquiesced to bring me, provide
I bought a thousand plants paying 400 réis (5) every one and brought just
a companion. I choose Quidinho, Sebastião de Matos Lima's son-in-law.
Everything arranged, we left Santa Angélica very early, at about three
o'clock in the morning and got the train from Leopoldina Company in Alegre,
at eight o'clock, to Veado, which had later the name changed to Siqueira
Campos and nowadays is called Guaçuí, still in the State of Espírito Santo.
We got out in Veado, took the truck which transported coffee in grain
from the farm to be processed and went to Varre-Sai, in the state Rio
de Janeiro, small village next to Natividade de Carangola.
In Varre-Sai, we got into another truck which transported brown rice from
this farm where, in Dito Getrudes' words, he had his "nursery". We got
down, before the farm, in a lowland, with a not tall brushwood, in a swamp,
which margins had such high row of shrubs that we could not see the wood
inside the swamp.
Dito said: The nursery is here! I felt my self dull, I could not believe
that in that swamp surrounded by a field could have warneri. Dito
told me that we could start to pick the plants as he had the permission
of the farmer. I could not still believe. It was about two o'clock in
the afternoon, at high noon, a December sun (6), he, resolute, got into
the swamp, so did I and Quidinho.
We hardly got into 200 meters when I saw in many suinã trunks (Erythrina
glauca) wonderful plants of warneri, schomburgkia and
many others. Due to the swamped ground, the trees were not big and the
plants were practically at the height of our hands, amazing thing for
those who know the habitat of warneri. As the suinãs (or mochoco,
as they called them) have a very soft wood, it was enough to get up to
the first branch , hit with the machete and the plants all dropped. We
just needed to cut the roots and they were perfectly clean.
At about six o'clock and half, the sun still shinning, we had five hundred
selected plants, some more beautiful than others. The day after, we gathered
more seven hundred and fifty plants, excluding some small that we did
not count, we put in the basket of coffee and came back to Santa Angélica
within only three days of travelling. Those were the only warneri
I picked in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The next year, unfortunately,
this nursery disappeared with the clearing of the wood and drainage of
the swamp to cultivate rice.
Besides the end of the nursery of warneri, our story has another
sad epilogue, the vanishing of its discoverer, Dito Getrudes, which occurred
in the same year of the cleaning of the wood.
I tell you how it happened:
In this farm, there was an enormous tree of fig, very high indeed (rare
in this kind of wood), with many and big clumps of warneri. I do
believe that the plants of that tree were the responsible for the population
of this swamp, not only because it was very close (it is was placed between
the swamp and the house-farm) but also because, the plants had a very
old appearance, with enormous clumps which seeds, carried by the wings,
dropped in one of the most fertile field as we know, suinãs are excellent
hosts for epiphyte plants, mainly orchids.
Well, the farmer had always allowed the gathering provided they picked
orchids from any tree except from that. His reason was fair and well known
by the harvesters, Dito Getrudes included, this fig true had in a big
clump of white flowers, the "alba", which were, by this time, priceless.
In a night of October l935, nearly to the end of the month, one of the
hired bully of the farm, hearing noises from the fig tree (the warneri
were blooming and so did the white), went slyly to see what was happing.
Every year, accomplishing the farmer's order was a tough task , they should
prevent "the white parasite" from being stolen. And the order should be
kept in one way or another.
A shot was heard (some told it was from a rifle) and something bulky fallen
down from the fig tree. The hired bully hurried to the house and the farmer
asked what had happened. He answered: "I killed a rattlesnake". And the
farmer said: "Through it into the river, now".
Since then, everything became silent and we have never heard anything
more about Dito of "missus" Getrudes.
We were still in the time of doing justice by oneself , the law of the
(1) Paulista - who is born in the State of São Paulo
(2) Bastião - nick name for Sebastião
(3) Tree of the genus Cariniana
(4) Aspidosperma polyneuron
(5) Réis = Brazilian money at this time
(6) Early Summer in south hemisphere