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The cover of the March-April 2006 Journal featured a caricature of a rather scrawny, white-haired old man, and the issue was dedicated to him on his 80th birthday (Fig. 1). In his commentary on his drawing, which captured the characteristic stance so well, Gerhard Max said “The combination of skills needed to what he has done so far is only rarely found in a single human ...”. Gerhard's enthusiastic yet accurate words inevitably presaged a loss, as we now celebrate, and take a glimpse into the early years and life, of the genius that was John Lavranos.
The Echeverias of the Chillón River Valley, one of the three rivers that run through Lima, the Capital city of Perú, are reviewed. Three new taxa are recognized and described: two new species and a new variety. (1) Echeveria deltoidea is a large species with narrowly triangular, light green to glaucous-purplish leaves, and large salmon-colored widely pyramidal flowers. It differs from E. chiclensis in its larger and broader, flatter leaves. It has been mistaken for E. andicola but this latter has smaller, prismatic, evenly orange-red flowers and smaller obovate-oblong leaves instead. Its rosettes are as large as in E. excelsa but this species has obovate leaves with obtuse apices. (2) Echeveria fruticosa is a new species with conspicuous aerial stems, erect or decumbent, each crowned by a rosette of rhomboid-obovate leaves, glaucous to bright green, narrowly rhomboid to obovate and wider than the linear oblong leaves of E. chiclensis. It has urceolate, light yellowish-green flowers with a blush, redder when exposed. (3) Echeveria chiclensis var. cantaensis is a new variety of Echeveria chiclensis with lighter greener leaves and shorter flowers than the type variety, yellowish with a blush, redder than the other two varieties. It could be mistaken with E. andicola but this species has slightly smaller flowers and wider leaves. It thrives at the Huaura, Chancay and Chillón River Valleys at lower altitudes than var. chiclensis from the Rímac River and Lurín River Valleys. In the Northern range, it reaches very low altitudes. (4) Echeveria chiclensis var. backebergii is also found in the area, although it does not differ too much from the populations of the type locality in the Rímac Valley.
Sclerocactus glaucus (K.Schum) L.D.Benson (Cactaceae) may have a very low germination rate (2–3%) in the wild. The seeds of this cactus species might need cold stratification and/or scarification to trigger germination. It has been suggested that chipping off a portion of the seed coat or soaking the seed in a bleach solution might increase germination rates for Sclerocactus spp. The purpose of our study was to determine if chipping off the pointed tip of the seed coat of Sclerocactus glaucus seeds and soaking them in a bleach solution would increase germination rates when compared to germination rates of untreated seeds.