July Cactus Patch

The Cactus Patch

July 2020

President's Message's - July

First of all, I hope our July newsletter finds everyone in great spirit and excellent health.  As you are all aware, COVID-19 cases are again on the rise in California and as a result many businesses will have to shut down for a second round.  For this reason, I would like to inform you that our Show and Sale for 2020 has been canceled.
 
 

I had delayed in making the announcement, as we were all looking forward to hosting this annual event in October.  It’s too unfortunate but this is the reality of the times we are all living.  For now we will continue to monitor the situation and continue to follow the CDC guidelines.

With the shelter-in-place restrictions affecting our collective movements, I hope you  are all finding ways to connect with plants in some way.  A good friend of mine who lives in San Luis Obispo invited me last Friday to visit the Agricultural Department at Cal Poly University to view a rare sighting of a corpse flower in bloom, Amorphophallus titanum.  This was my second time viewing this magnificent flower, my first time was at California Carnivores Plant Nursery in Sonoma County, but I had yet to experience it’s unpleasant odor which I hear is much more pronounced in the evening hours.  I was told it’s a night bloomer so you must view it in the late evening if you wish to get the whole experience.  That was not my luck but I still enjoyed taking close up pictures of the flower.  Here is the link if you would like to read more about this extraordinary plant and  its flower.   Rare Corpse Flower Bloom
 
I hope you are also doing our part in supporting our local businesses and the nurseries we enjoy most.  This past Sunday, I stopped at Bolles Nursery and was wonderfully surprised to find a whole nursery flat full of Obregonia denegrii.  I only picked up a couple young plants, but I’m sure I’ll be back for more!  If you decide to visit some of the nurseries in LA County, don’t forget to call ahead to ensure their hours haven’t been affected and don’t leave your face covering behind.  Until next month, stay safe and be well.


Luis De La Torre

PLANT OF THE MONTH - Lithops dorotheae

 

by

 

Jack G. Reynolds

 

This month we well depart from the Euphorbiaceae and begin adventuring among the members of the family Mesembryanthemaceae or the Mesembryanthema a subfamily of the Azoaceae. (Try saying that three times without tying your tongue in a knot.)  The mesembryanthemums comprise a group of succulents with several thousand species and over a hundred genera.  We will not be able to describe them all needless to say.

 

Almost all of them are found in southern Africa, where they live from the hottest deserts of the west up into the mountains of central south Africa.  Collectively these are small to medium plants which have developed various colors and textures that can act a a sort of camouflage.  Many of them are referred to as “living stones” because of this characteristic.  

 

Lithops dorotheae is one of these.  The general form of a Lithops is a small plant   a couple of inches long, with two swollen flat or convex topped leaves attached to a hidden underground stem.  The flat ends of the leaf bodies are generally only a fraction of an inch above ground level and when dormant may actually be below ground level.  The flat ends of the leaf bodies have a window that admits light into the interior where the photosynthetic process is carried out.  Different species of Lithops will have different patterns and colors of lines and dots on their windows.  They generally match the background coloration of the soil they are growing in.  The two leaf bodies are generally very tightly pressed together so that only a groove separates them but a few species have wider gaps up to a quarter of an inch or so.  When new leaves form they emerge in the gap between the old leaves.  The new leaves will have a gap that runs at right angles to the old leaf bodies.  As the new leaf bodies swell the old ones will shrivel up and die eventually forming a paper-thin sheath around the new leaves.

 

Lithops dorotheae is a small succulent about 1.5 in. (35 mm.) long, with almost all the length under ground.  It was named by Dorothea Huyssteen in 1935.  The exposed surfaces of the leaf bodies are convex and about 1 in. x 0.5 in. (25 x 13 mm.).  According to Dortort it is one of the easier Lithops to grow which is why I chose it as plant of the month.  It produces yellow aster-like flowers in the fall near the end of the growing season.  The growing season for most Lithops in the northern hemisphere is from about April to October.   I have a friend who says she is expert at killing Lithops and the most important things are light and water,  plenty of light and not too much water.  In general plants will go bone dry during the winter and receive their first watering in spring.  At all times they should get strong light up to full sun or slightly filtered sun.  During the summer they should be watered thoroughly every two to three weeks and allowed to go bone dry between watering.  In the fall at the end of the growing season they will flower and new leaves will develop.  The old leaves will begin to wither and the plant should not be watered again until they have completely dried up to a paper-thin husk surrounding the new leaf bodies.  Lithops make good container plants in a coarse gritty growing medium that contains little or no organic material and must drain well.  Most can tolerate cold down to almost freezing but must be dry.  They require strong light so if kept indoors a south facing window or a greenhouse is best.  Some species are available as seed but most are purchased from specialty nurseries.

California Native Succulents

L. M. Moe

 

    Collecting succulent and caudiciform plants is a popular hobby. The term "succulent" loosely refers to those plants that have fleshy roots, stems or leaves that store water for use during dry periods when water is not available to the roots. A caudiciform succulent is a plant with stem and root fused into a swollen water-storage organ called a caudex. Except for cacti, some other succulents and a few caudiciforms, succulents in our collections are mostly plants of Africa and Madagascar. However, there are some succulents and caudiciform plant species native to California but rarely seen in succulent collections.

 

    This is a preliminary listing of succulent or caudiciform native plant species in California. To be included in the list, the plant must have conspicuously succulent leaves or stems or a well-developed caudex and live in habitats with significant water stress (prolonged dry periods or salty soils). Those plants with fleshy leaves (such as some Claytonia (miner’s lettuce, spring beauty), Dithyrea (spectacle-pod), Abronia (sand verbena)  and others) are not included because they mostly have flat leaves. Plants such as Allotropa (sugar stick), Sarcodes (snow plant), Pholisma (sand food), and Arceuthobium (mistletoe), are parasitic plants. Though they cannot be grown in pots, they may be called "pseudosucculents."

 

    I selected the species included here mostly based on the idea that, if they were Old World species instead of Californian, they would likely be considered "collector's succulents." The exceptions, of course, are the cacti, dudleyas, stonecrops, and agaves which are found in many succulent collections. Plants like Marah (man-root) and Cucurbita (gourd) are included even though they are really too large for normal collections. The parasitic "pseudosucculents" and the chenopods adapted to "physiological drought" are included out of general interest.

 

AGAVACEAE (century plants)

Agave Three species in California.

 

AIZOACEAE (ice plant family)

(Naturalized in California: Aptenia, Carpobrotus, Conicosia, Delosperma, Drosanthemum, Malephora, and Mesembryanthemum are all introduced from South Africa. Tetragonium is from South America.)


Sesuvium verrucosum "sea-purselane" Saline interior or coastal wetlands.

ASTERACEAE (sunflower family)

Jaumea carnosa "jaumea" Coastal salt marshes and bluffs.

 

BORAGINACEAE (forget-me-not family)

Heliotropium curassavicum "heliotrope" Dry saline soils throughout California.

(The next two are sometimes referred to as "pseudosucculents", parasitic plants with succulent stems or leaves.)

Pholisma arenarium "sand food" Coastal dunes into the deserts.

Pholisma sonorae "sand food" Imperial County south and east.

BRASSICACEAE (mustard family)

Draba “draba” Several species, mostly alpine

 

CACTACEAE

11 genera in California (Bergerocactus, Carnegia, Coryphantha, Echinocactus, Echinocereus, Escobaria, Ferocactus, Grusonia, Mammillaria, Opuntia, Sclerocactus).

 

CHENOPODIACEAE (in the narrow sense – the goosefoot family)

(Stem succulents adapted to "physiological drought" conditions because they grow in areas with high salt content such as salt marshes and alkali flats)

Allenrolfea occidentalis "iodine bush" Interior saline flats.

Kochia  Two native species in interior saline areas .

Salicornia "pickleweed" Five species of stem-succulents, saline marshes and alkaline flats.

Sarcobatus vermiculatus "greasewood" Interior saline flats and washes.

Suaeda "seepweed, seablight" Five species of stem-succulents, saline marshes and alkaline flats.

BRASSICACEAE (mustard family)

Draba “draba” Several species, mostly alpine

 

CACTACEAE

11 genera in California (Bergerocactus, Carnegia, Coryphantha, Echinocactus, Echinocereus, Escobaria, Ferocactus, Grusonia, Mammillaria, Opuntia, Sclerocactus).

 

CHENOPODIACEAE (in the narrow sense – the goosefoot family)

(Stem succulents adapted to "physiological drought" conditions because they grow in areas with high salt content such as salt marshes and alkali flats)

Allenrolfea occidentalis "iodine bush" Interior saline flats.

Kochia  Two native species in interior saline areas .

Salicornia "pickleweed" Five species of stem-succulents, saline marshes and alkaline flats.

Sarcobatus vermiculatus "greasewood" Interior saline flats and washes.

Suaeda "seepweed, seablight" Five species of stem-succulents, saline marshes and alkaline flats.

CRASSULACEAE (stonecrop family)

(Aeonium and Cotyledon introduced from the Canary Islands and South Africa, respectively)

Crassula "stonecrop" Three species in California.

Dudleya "live forever or dudleya" Two dozen species in California.

Sedella "annual stonecrop" Three species in CA.

Sedum "stonecrop" Fourteen species in California.

CUCURBITACEAE (gourd family, large fleshy caudex)

Cucurbita (“gourd, coyote melon”) Three species throughout California.

Marah "man-root" Five species throughout California.

ERICACEAE (heath family)

(These are sometimes referred to as "pseudosucculents", parasitic plants with succulent stems or leaves.)

Allotropa virgata "sugar stick" Mountain forests, northern California.

Hemitomes congestum "gnome plant" Mountain forests, northern California.

Pityopus californicus "pinefoot" Mountain forests, northern California.

Pleuricospora fimbriolata "fringed pinesap" Mountain forests, northern California.

Sarcodes sanguinea "snow plant" Mountain forests, southern California.

LENTIBULARIACEAE (bladderwort family)

Pinguicula “butterwort, ping” One species in California. See the May Cactus Patch.

 

LILIACEAE (broadly considered, includes brodiaeas, lilies and others)

Numerous genera with bulbs, corms or underground rhizomes, all of which can be considered water storage organs.

 

NYCTAGINACEAE (four o’clock family)

Abronia “sand verbena" Eight species on coastal and desert dunes.

 

OROBANCHACEAE (broomrape family)

(These are sometimes referred to as "pseudosucculents", parasitic plants with succulent stems or leaves.)

Kopsiopsis "ground-cone" Two species throughout California.

Orobanche "broom rape" Ten species throughout California.

PORTULACACEAE (miner’s lettuce family - mostly small caudiciforms)

Calyptridium "pussypaws" Eight species in California, many with succulent leaves

Claytonia “spring beauty” Fifteen species in California

Lewisia Sixteen species in California, many with succulent leaves

 

SOLANACEAE (nightshade, potato, tomato family)

Lycium andersonii "box thorn" Mojave desert south. (A shrub with small fat leaves)

The CCSA is holding a webinar that might interest you!

What: Join us for a new CSSA Webinar
Who: Brian Kemble presents “Iconic Plants of the Ruth Bancroft Garden” (Click link to register)
When: Saturday, July 25, 10:00 PDT


Brian is a CSSA board member, as well as the vice-president of the San Francisco Succulent & Cactus Society. He is the curator at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA, and has worked there since 1980. Brian loves to see and photograph succulents in habitat, and has made many trips to Mexico, South Africa, Namibia and Madagascar. His photos appear in numerous books on succulents, including The Timber Press Guide to Succulent Plants of the World, and he often gives talks on succulents for garden clubs, succulent societies, and plant conventions. Brian is also a prolific writer on topics relating to succulent plants, with hundreds of articles published in print and online, including pieces in the Cactus & Succulent Journal and on the website of the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

Brian has a longstanding interest in Aloe, Gasteria, and Haworthia, and he is the vice-president of the Institute for Aloe Studies, based in Oakland, CA. He has sought out the habitats of many species in these three genera on his trips to southern Africa and Madagascar, and has over 40 years of experience growing them and hybridizing with them.

Click here to register!