A Phytogeographic Study of Brazil, by P. H. Rolfs.

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A Phytogeographic Study of Brazil, by P. H. Rolfs.
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F.



P. H, Rolls


It gives great pleasure to be here and to mest


you young fllonws. I wmagntulate you that you are


at the threshold of a new era; mountains of rubbish

a-
have been cleared oAtrtfl M way. Ninlty per cent of


what I was taught in AniaiA Husbandry fifty yearn ago


had to be unlearamed., I believe it was Josh Billing


who said: "I'd rather not k w uch MU to know so


S many things that are not so.


How I eonry you the future, that .i i I or@ you.


At no time in the tast fifty years ham there been sudi


a wealth of opportunity for the young-man, figuratively


speaking, a whole new world lies before yout a be explored


.Literally. millions of highly educated young people. have





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leisure and time to *tudy forced en the*. We older


fellows wore *e buoy aoumulatimg wealth and knowledge


that there was no ti n to see where v o wre going. We


have provided for you this heritage of comfort, wealth


amd knowledge. It is yours. It is your stepping stone


to greater and more brilliant achievement.




I wish to devote about fifteen minutes to a generalisM


discussion of Brasil. The photographer that follow will


give you a more concrete and correct idea of Braeil than


anything that hee been published. They portray what would


require many hours of reading.


Vy daughter Miss 1RoAf, and I spent twelve year


"locating, organizing and conducting a modern Agricultural


College for the State of Iinau Gorais". After twelve years






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mervioes, we epent nine and a half months voyaging In


Argeniine, Paraguay, Uruguay and seventeen of the twenty


Brailiuan States. Our travel was by dug-out canoe, sail-


boat, steamboat, automobile, railways steamship when


%avoidable, and by airplane when oaur objective could


be more economically attained. We spoke Portuguese


fluently so went where we pleased.


The site I selected for the College war some seventy


kilometerm from the nearest English speaking family. The


unquestioned success attained by the institution munt


be credited largely to the latgli Mrs., Iolfe and my daughter


Clarissa. I Just smiled and looked wice, but felt other-


wise *.-"


This sketchy outline is unavoidable, as I shall


disillusion you, in seos respects, and contradict, in part






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or as a whole, almost everything uritte regarding


Brasili ; Ergiuh during the last fifteen yearn.



EXTENT. Brasil is ten per cent larger than the 48


United States; 80 % of it in the latitudinal torrid


zone; embraces nearly oneshalf of South Amerisa; has


47 million inhabitants (1935 estimate); about one-half


the total population of South America.



MIHAS GERAIS. The moat pepulou state in Brail


population eight snd a half million; about 85 % that


of Pennsylvania; eighty percent rural. Fifth Ina sie


among the Brasilian states; witb about seven time the


area of Pennasylvania; equal to Germany or France;


larger than Italy. Exceeded in size and population only


by Argentine.






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Your Prof. Rhoad, in four years, built up the best


teaching department of Animal Husbandry in any Agricultural


College in Brasil.


I often irritate my torwr colleagues by telling them


that in seven year the attendance at the Minas Agricul-


tural College was a hundred per sent greater than in te


Florida Agricultural College after forty years.





There are three important factors that determine


plant regions; Agriculture. A). Temperature, 3). Altitude


C). Humidity.


A),. TEPERATURE. Citrus fruits are produced for export


Sm Rio Grande do Sul, the southern most state. We also saw


Marsh Seodless grapefruit and pineapple oranges growing oan


the Tapaj6s, an affluent of the Amason. In other words, mo






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far as temperature is ooneramed, oitrus may be grown la


very state we visited. There is.j h Wor a araw O


4utIL ftve b nn.ir==t ho l surprisingly little change in


the general aspect of the forests where altitude and


humidity remain the sam4. Thb a will be evident when we


study the photograpbs of tbhe rain f omte, taken thousands


of miles apart.



B)K, ALTITUDE. ft%$gjVaries anywhere from "a level


up to 2800 meters, nearly ten thousand feet. The culmiaa-


ting peaks, Pioctda Bandeira snd Itatiay., are only a short


dkej==japy from the coast; one is a day's Journey north-


ward and the other a day's journey southward from Rio do


Janeiro. The mountain ranges run mare or less parallel to


the coast. Brasil contains geologically the oldest part


of South Ameriea Cprobably of the Western lHemispher).






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It looks as if the South Amerioan aoutinsnt" had been


eroded almost to the backbone. Back of these %###


mountain ranges, only 100 to 300 kilometers from the coast,


lies the great interior plateau; eultinatiag at about


1200 meters (4,000 fooeet), a thousand kilometers into the


interior from Rio do Janeiro.


In the southernmost states Rio Grando d* Sul, we


ascended to Caxian to see the great vins producing eoe-


tion. Deciduous fruittluxuriate. We saw an Iabe b


vineyard 4 year old, vines 25-30 centimeters (10


to 12 inches) in diameter. Another vineyard, thirty years


old, of a European variety, grafted on Isabel. The morning


we left COxias, hoar frost covered the entire landscape.


This was in midwinter, during June, Snowfall is expected





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everyj nearly as far north au the State of


Sio Paulo. The Tropie of Capricorn crosses that state.


By October we had Journied as far as Frortaleua, on the


northern coast, within four degrees of the Equator. We


bought freshly picked Concord grapes ripened on the


highlands of that States Ceard.


So much for altitudes; none of it high when compared


with the Andes or our Rocky mountains, but high enough to


produce a temperate-zone-temperature over an enormous


region. None known how extem ive; it ham never been or


pletely explored. Certainly more than fifteen times the


size of Pennsylvonia. A southern portion of this plateau


is a glaciated region touching the coastal mountains at the


latitude of Sao Paulo and stretching in a north westerly


direction, far north of the latitude of Rio. The surface








is planed down as smooth as Illinois and Iowa. I was


told that this glaciation was co-ineident with that of


South Africa and antedated our glacial period.



C). HUMITDITY. A well distributed rainfall thruout


the year is more conducive to plant growth, agriculture,


than a periodic rainy season, even tho the pneodic


reglonAmay have a much heavier annual rainfall. The region


to the south of Sio Paulo has no well defined rainy season.


From Rio northward, in the zone ef the trade winds, there


is a clearly defined rainy and dry season. The rainy


season begins in Spptaber or October, and reaches its


maximum about January, then gradually diminishing until
,A

about April. As we travel northward, the advent of the

rainy season is retarded. TheArainfall In Brasil varies



anywhere from zere to 1000 ceontimeters (o to 200 inches).





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In the southern area of the trade winds, the


maximum number of rains per day ocour from 3 to 7 P.V.


In the North-East, at 2 to 4 P. M. Here appointments


are made for before and after the rain. We of South


Brasil twit the northeastener eon correcting his watch


to accord with the beginning of the afternoon rain.


Aside from these general. features, there are local


geographical features, mountains for example& which


greatly disturb the local picture. As the moisture Ladeoa


air encounters the mountains, it is thrust upward into


the cooler stratum and precipitation secure. As the


dried air passes to the interior, it absorbs moisture


which is again precipitated as it again rims and sots


a cold stratum. Thus in passing over repeated sorras


Owe encounter areas of heavier and lighter rainfall.





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Continuing in the path of this repeated drying out


of the trade winds, wuich hit the continent at, we will


way, Bahia, and travel inland for 1000 to 2000 kilromters,


in a northwesterly direction* all the tine looslig altitude


and approaching the Equator* ve roeah a condition where the


rainy season i only a week's duration and precipitation


reduced to some twenty eontimeters. Two or three years


amy pasc without any rain. In other words, we arrive


at the Cantinga and Sertlo, an ar a 10 or 15 times that of


Penns ylvania.


Another perturbing factor in that when the air


passes to the interior it becomes warmed and rices, thus


sucking in water laden air from the ocean, causing heavy


precipitation the northern bonier. Henee the W"'k


csut coastal foreits froa the Amazon to the (fea. 7t4 i





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continuous belt, nor of a uniform width.


In the Upper Amazon valley another humidity element


enters the picture. The warmed tropical air passing


ever the Amazon basin absorbs a greet deal of moisture.


The rotation of the earth gives this air a general


north-westerly drift. When this encounters the Andean


System, heavy precipitation occur. I have seen records


of 500 centimeters (200 inches) at Mlanoss; a thousand


mile. up the Amazon; the limit of %j/% navigation for


ocean liners. I have been told of 400 inches of rainfall


and 400 rainy days in a year !






l3


Misconception s.
/X). That Brauil, as its name implisa, is one


vast tropical forest. It is not. My guesh is that not


more than 10 % of its area is covered with merchantable


timber, Yet Brasil is so vast, that no other nation has


an equal. area of tropical forest.


The pioneer botanists and geoligiuts were obliged to


travel by water. They saw the marvelouu forests and not


the hinterland. The text boota writers used t 5e5Aplai


their imagination. We, poor children, got third hand


knowledge.


The waters of magazine articles often exaggerate .


For example; a writer in a recent number of the Brailian-


Azwrican said that one-half of Brasil was covered with


forest. Magazine editors edit according to what text-books





11+
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taught them. You are different; yau are here because


you want to know. I am here because I went you to get


a "close-up".


2). That dense forests and jungle have to be


cleaned off before farming can be done. Farming man be


and is bein tens on lands that were no more timbered than


were Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. The great coffee produ-


cing area is outside of the tropical forest region. Yet


Braail produces one-half of the world's coffee supply. So


much indeed that sowe years Brasil has burned train loads


of coffee to keep it off of the world's market.


3). That fatto Grosso, a vast interior state, more


extensive than Mew England and toe Middle States anmiMd, is


a vast forest, as the neame implies. It is another one of


those mis-nomers. In At occurs the culmination of the






/4-

plateau, about 4000 feet.


Theodore Roosevelt explored a part of it. Fleming


searched for Fawaett in a portion; H. Vfon Leutzelburg


botanized in a portion; Davis and other Presbyterian


missionaries have outposts among the Indians. It is a


vast cattle region. Tbs-mti- outlet is by the Paran&


and Paraguay Rivera.


If you want something sensational and scientifi-


cally untrustworthy read "Creen Hell". I mention it


because it is a best seller and frequently quoted.)



4), That traveling in the back country is


dangerous and fraught with hardships. UMrs. Chase, a


botanist in our National 5kmzmz crossed from railhead


in t/gIW4 Matto flrosso, into Bolivia and back by







-tel.

herself. Other North American women have traveled almost


anywhere they pleased. Miss Rolls end I spent a week at


Iguass& near the boundary between Paraguay, Argentine and


Brasil, where criminals aan tit evade police officers


of any one or another country.


As f&r hardship, my daughter end I are rather hardy


specimens; we can live on food for a day or a week, that


is the regular diet of the native population. In short,


these stories of dangers and hardships are mainly for


literary dran.g.


My stories of great snakes, fierce Jaguars, and


ferocious Indians, I am reserving for those who must be


treated to mental cocktails.








5). That Brasil contains only tropical speaies:-


PARANA PINE. Another misnomer, not a pine at all,


a Araucaria, should have become extinct a million or so


years ago. Forests occur only on the highlands of the four


southernmost states of Brasil. Freezes and enowfall are


expected every year in this region.


The only forest that appeals to the North Amerioan


lumberman. We saw millions of feet of lumber in yard


at Tree Barras, State of Santa Catharina, operated by tim


late R. H. Mead a North American.


Foresters estimate that about one third of Brasil's


lumber is in the Paranh pine forests, over a hundred billion


board feet.


6). That Brasil is an unfit habitat for the white


man. Prof. Ellsworti Huntington of Tale University in his






-rr-
d1
"The Human Habitat", proves t abis own satisfaction that-
p./ in-"
vio civiliSation wrthy of the nem can persist outside of


the 7/&Y tmperate mane. That only the north temperate


zone has foci for irridiating the highest type; Europe


several foci and North America one fost,- New England. Oh,


you provincialist :


That reminds me, forty six years ago, when I was


biddinmy ftftand and mentor Dr. J. H. PFammel, of the


Iowa Igricultural College, "'!uufyJ he warned me that I


must not remain in Florida for more than a year. That hne


tropical climate made white men lazy. It did, after


46 years I am still living in Florida. 0 you provincials :







CONCLUSIONS

I. Iy tentative estimate on the phytological areas

in Brasil is:

1. Rich tropical forest 10 %

2. Araucaria forests 5

3. Wooded country, timber unsuited for lumberingP
15 ?

4. Agreste, grasses dominant 30 %

5. Gaatinga (cactus prominent and sertai4, 20 %

6. knexplored, but not tropical forests 20 %


II. THE PEPLE. I have purposely avoided saying anythkq


about them on about the government. It would take an hour


to present a clear picture of the government and another


hour to understand somewhat clearly the Brasilian of today.



III. Brasil could easily *uovide food and susteneasme


for 300 million people; more easily than can the United


States and Canada support 150 million. A year's labor in


Uines Gerais is twice as productive as a year's labor in


Wisconsin.





-W6


IV. FINALLY. I want to felicitate you young


fellows for the marvelous present. You and millions of


other, highly educated young people have plenty of time


to think.


I would not ezohmgs the experience of the past four


decades for four centuries in Cathay.


The next four decodes should bring to you a far


richer experience.




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