October Cactus Patch

The Cactus Patch

October 2020

PLANT OF THE MONTH - Titanopsis calcarea


Jack G. Reynolds


Last month I thought we were done with the Mesembryanthimums when we covered a representative Conophytum but Dortort fooled me, the next chapter covers the “Dwarf Mesembryanthemums”. I should have read ahead. The Aizoaceae is a very large family with over 3000 species and over 100 genera so you can see that we are barely skimming the surface. The “Mesembs” as they are often referred to are almost all found in South Africa and Namibia. They represent a tremendous diversification across a geographic range. The genus Titanopsis however is relatively small being comprised of only about six described species.

I chose it as plant of the month because Dortort mentions that it would be a good candidate to grow in the ground in Bakersfield. Other related species have been growing in the ground at The Huntington Botanic Garden for many years.

Titanopsis calcarea also known as “concrete leaf living stone” is found from southern Namibia through Bushmanlanland east to the Great Karoo. Plants form tight clusters of rosettes up to 6 in. (15 cm.) across. A rosette will average 2.5 in. (6 cm.) across with each leaf being about 1 in. (2.5 cm) long. Leaves are fleshy, grey-green in color and covered with warty tubercles near the end. Tubercles will very in color from white to brown acting like a camouflage in the stoney soil where these plants grow. They grow in some of the least hospitable environments in full sun in lands that get only 2-5 in. of rain in a year and no humidity.

They are relatively cold hardy down to 25 F if they are not watered. In cultivation they require a very gritty soil with no organic matter. They should be kept very dry in winter and watered sparingly every two to three weeks in spring and fall and less often in summer. Flowers usually come in the fall but sometimes also in spring. Flowers are about 0.8 in. (20 mm.) in diameter and are yellow to orange. Dortort says that they may grow in the ground in Bakersfield. If you try it plan to dig an oversized hole and fill it with pumice or scoria. They may be propagated by dividing clusters or from seed which is available from specialty venders. 




President's Message

The month of October is special to us here in Bakersfield because during this month the Bakersfield Cactus and Succulent Society has hosted, for the past 20 years, one of the best plant sale and private plant collection displays around.  This annual event has always been a great way to make new friends and network with other plant growers and hobbyists.   During this time last year; I had the opportunity of meeting a few people who had traveled long distances to meet other friends in town and attend this plant sale event.  Fortunately, I was introduced to Luis Arturo Lopez, a very active plumeria grower based in the northern San Diego area.  We’ve kept in touch ever since. 
As many of you know, our dedicated members work collaboratively from start to finish to bring this event to fruition each year for the enjoyment of everyone who attends.  Unfortunately, due to challenges brought forth by the pandemic our 21st annual show and sale had to be canceled.  Nonetheless,  Stephen Cooley was kind enough to share a few old photographs to refresh our memories.  These pictures instantly make me smile as I’m reminded of the fun we’ve shared over the years.  I’ve heard others mention that remembering is the best way to relive past experiences.  Thank you, Stephen for sharing these pictures for our October newsletter.  We’re staying optimistic and hope next year will a better year for everyone! 
On a different note, there have been a few good things brought forth by the pandemic, one that comes quickly to mind are the virtual meetings hosted by different plant societies.  I would like to mention, although it isn’t related to succulents, some of our members might find interesting.  I received an email from the San Francisco Fern Society in which there will be a virtual meeting on Saturday, November 14th  from 10:00 a.m.  to 12:00 p.m.  The speaker will be Jolanda Nels who will deliver a presentation on the Ferns of South Africa.  You can find more information by going to http://sffern.org/  I’ve you’re interested in hearing this presentation, don’t forget to add this event to your calendar!
Lastly, we are quickly approaching the end of the year and now would be a great time to start showing interest in our newsletter, our Facebook page, organizing virtual meetings or running for office to help our board of directors in 2021.  I will be stepping down as president but will continue to be well invested in the future of our club.  Until next month, stay safe and be well.
-Luis de la Torre
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!