September Cactus Patch

The Cactus Patch

September 2020

PLANT OF THE MONTH - Conophytum wettsteinii by
Jack G. Reynolds

I am unwilling to leave the Mesembs (Aizoaceae) without considering at least one Conophytum. I choose C. wettsteinii because it is beautiful to look at and relatively easy to grow. I’m not absolutely sure of that because I don’t have one. My only Conophytum is C. bilobum and I have already written about it.

Conophytums are found in western South Africa and Namibia. There are over a hundred described species and three hundred varieties. The general form of the plant is very similar to Lithops being two plant bodies separated by a fissure through which will emerge the flowers and the next generation of leaves. The flowers are shades of pink and come at the beginning of the growing season (Sept. - Oct.) in our area. Dortort says that flowering in Conophytum signals the beginning of their time to water. They are winter growers and as such should be watered then and very sparingly (when they start to shrivel) during the summer dormant period.

Conophytum wettsteinii has a smooth grey-green flattened disc form and as it grows the plants sort of mound up into a pile. Individual plants are about an inch in diameter and about a quarter of an inch thick. The central fissure is very small sort of like a dimple. They like strong light and probably can take full sun in Bakersfield. In well draining soil they may be able to grow outside year round. It is reported to be cold tolerant to -2 C. Most are grown in pots and may do well in a well lighted window. They do not like to be over potted or potted too often. A clump may live in the same pot for many years in a gritty soil that does not break down.

They generally are propagated from cuttings but can be grown from seed also. Cuttings should include two or more heads and some root. Seed may be obtained from a specialty source.



President’s Message - September

Our September newsletter is here, I hope everyone continues doing well.  I’d like to start out by mentioning that one of the last webinars hosted by the Cactus and Succulent Society of America (CSSA) which I had a chance to listen in was presented by Stephen McCabe on  August 22nd at 10:00 a.m.  I remember it was Saturday morning, I was in the kitchen making breakfast when I suddenly got the notification on my phone and so I quickly ran to plug in my earphones and listen in closely while I continued cooking.  It seems I’m always busy doing something before I realize I missed the presentation.  Luckily not this time.


Stephen McCabe shared great information on Dudleyas in his slide presentation titled, “Dudleya on the Edge”.  Although I have seen my share of towering cliffs along the California coastline dappled with Dudleyas, these plants haven’t always caught of my interest, or at least not to the same level these plants appeal to some of our other members.  I suppose I’ve been mostly attracted to thorny plants, the thornier the better in my opinion.
Nonetheless, Dudleyas do have their own charm and as one of California’s native plant groups, we must do everything we can to preserve their existence in situ.  The survival of other wildlife also depends on our efforts in preserving these essential plants.  I’m sure we’ve all read or heard on the news of infamous plant poachers getting arrested for illegally extracting these plants off the California coastline and the devastation this illicit activity has on the environment.  Additionally, with all the recent wildfires rampantly burning around California, it’s too early to measure the devastation these fires will have on the overall population of these already endangered habitats. 
It’s sad to think that some of these plants are literally hanging on the edge of existence.  It was impressive to witness Stephen’s effort and dedication to study, propagate and preserve these plants.  When Stephen was being evacuated from his neighborhood up in northern California due to the nearby fires, he was literally loading up his vehicle with some of these critically endangered plants in a last effort to save a few.  His unwavering effort to plant conservation is commendable!  These engulfing infernos have devasted our state beyond belief.  Luckily Stephen did mention it appeared his house had been spared.  Our hearts go out all friends and families affected by the fires.
For future webinars don’t forget to subscribe to the CSSA who is hosting these meetings every couple of weeks.  You can also follow them on Facebook or click for more information.  Until next month, be well and stay safe.

From all of us, stay healthy and stay safe. While facing these uncertain times while alone together, don't forget to reach out to your friends and family via phone and email. Don't miss out on time to connect and love one another!