June 2008

Photography30 Jun 2008 03:52 pm

Echinopsis marsoneri

These are a funny looking small barrel-like cactus that can grow to around 3″. Dark purple in full sun. Partial shade in the heat. I love the slightly dessicated look in the summer, all wrinkly. When they are full of water, they are less interesting.

Keep blooming all summer long. Well, I suppose if you traveled with them in October to Australia to catch a 2nd summer in a row then maybe they’d be pretty fed up and would stop blooming before the end of the endless summer. But I can’t be sure.

This cultivar is called “Henry’s Bookcase”. I don’t know why.

News30 Jun 2008 10:07 am

Suncalc tells you how much sun you’re getting. You didn’t know how much sun you were getting? Then this is the tool for you.

On the other hand, what do you mean you don’t know how much sun you’re getting? I don’t understand. Are your sunglasses too dark?

Who are the customers for this product? Gadget-mania leaves the kitchen and comes to the garden. Oy.

Questions30 Jun 2008 07:09 am

First we get the question, trimmed for space.

Q: Hi there,
Just wondering if you could give me some pruning advice…. Euphorbia candelabra on her terrace… overlooking the River Thames… too big for the space….

Is it possible to prune it back? One of the cactus experts at the Hampton Court Flower Show here told me it would die if I did so… it will have irritating sap…

Any info you could give would be much appreciated. I don’t come across many outdoor cactus here in London, usually just red geranium and buxus balls and so could do with a bit of your much more expert guidance.

Look forward to hearing back from you

Best Regards

Then we get the compact answer:


Yes, you can prune the Euphorbia, if it is done right it will not kill the plant, but it will cause them to scar and then branch over the next few years. You should prune now during warm weather so it has a chance to heal before your wet and cold winter. It should be easy to cut with a pruning saw or a serrated knife. The sap on Euphorbia candelabra is very toxic so make sure you wear safety glasses or use a full face shield, chemical resistant gloves and long sleeves. You do not want the sap in your eyes, as it can cause blindness! To stop the “bleeding” use 3% Hydrogen-peroxide from a druggist, put in to a spray bottle and spray the cut heavily as soon as you are done cutting. It will make the sap stop flowing fairly fast, but watch for splatter while you spray (a real good reason to wear a face shield).

Good luck (and we would love an emailed photo of a before and after to put up on Cactus Blog).


Photography29 Jun 2008 11:38 am

Rebutia pygmaea – small plants, small flowers, but what a color. They can double in number in a year, but they don’t get any bigger than a thumbnail or so.

If I could compose a song to these plants it would go something like this:

Rebutia, my rebutia
Oh I long to dance with my rebutia…

Well, you get the idea.

Environment29 Jun 2008 07:14 am

The New York Times discusses weeds and climate change today.

But enhancing CO2 levels, Ziska has found, not only augments the growth rate of many common weeds, increasing their size and bulk; it also changes their chemical composition. When he grew ragweed plants in an atmosphere with 600 p.p.m. of CO2 (the level projected for the end of this century in that same climate-change panel “B2 scenario”), they produced twice as much pollen as plants grown in an atmosphere with 370 p.p.m. (the ambient level in the year 1998). This is bad news for allergy sufferers, especially since the pollen harvested from the CO2-enriched chamber proved far richer in the protein that causes the allergic reaction.

California Native Plants28 Jun 2008 03:26 pm

Baileya multiradiata – Desert Marigold

The ladybug attacks before the flower can even open fully.

Questions28 Jun 2008 02:20 pm

…about the question people ask us, “Why is my cactus/succulent (turning yellow) (losing leaves) (turning brown) (dying)?”

But then I decided that I didn’t want to answer that question.

If I were to answer it, I’d have to ask questions back to the questioner. For instance, I might ask, “Do you know what the species is?” or “When was the last time you repotted it?” and of course, “How often do you water?” and finally, “Can you bring the plant in or send a digital photo?”

Often people try to describe the plant, “Oh it’s green and it’s got long thingys on it, but it’s not too spikey…” or “It’s got round leaves” so I’ll point to a plant and they’ll say, “No that’s not it, it’s taller than that” or “More round”.

That’s enough whining for today. Go back to enjoying your Saturday afternoon. Go on…. You don’t have to go outside, but you can’t stay here…

Questions28 Jun 2008 07:08 am

Q: I’m trying to find a succulent that my paternal grandmother had. It’s been referred to in the family as hens and chicks, mother of thousands, string of pearls, and tears something-or-other. She lived in Bakersfield, CA.

It has long leaves, and produces ‘babies’ on the edges, which fall off at the gentlest touch, and root easily.

Can you help?



A: What you are looking for is what we call the Mother of Millions, or I suppose, if you have less ambition, Mother of Thousands. Definitely not Hen and Chicks or String of Pearls which are completely different.

The latin name is Kalanchoe daigremontiana. We do carry this plant at the nursery.

Blogs27 Jun 2008 04:51 pm

Those fine folks at Apartment Therapy show us 10 lovely photos of their 10 favorite succulents. It’s all good.

Recipes27 Jun 2008 04:00 pm

No, I don’t mean the Neoporteria. It’s 4:00pm so it must be time for a tequila-based drink called Black Cactus. Not that there’s any cactus in it, mind you. But there is Agave in it, in the form of the tequila, of course. I’ve been using some Agave nectar recently as a replacement for simple syrup. It’s good stuff. Anyway, on to the recipe.

1 oz Sauza Hornitos Resposado tequila
1 oz blackberry brandy
1 oz club soda

Pour Tequila and blackberry brandy together. Add club soda. Drink like a shooter.

Well, that seems simple enough. Now to go find some blackberry brandy. I wonder if there’s any other use for it, or if I should find a very small bottle.

Whippets27 Jun 2008 02:26 pm

Another shot of Benjamin on the Sonoma Coast.

Science27 Jun 2008 02:23 pm

Every now and then I read through published articles on the science of cactus, and then post my analysis of the quality of the science.

This is not one of those times.

Instead, I pass along this abstract from National Center for Biotechnology Information on Tissue Cultures of a Cactus.

Tissue Cultures of a Cactus.

Tissue cultures have been established from stems of Trichocereus spachianus (Riccob.) for the purpose of studying alkaloid biosynthesis in cactus tissue. On a basal inorganic medium supplemented with glucose, coconut milk, and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, three distinct types of callus are initiated. One is greenish, compact, and slow-growing; another is firm and yellowish, with a moderate growth rate; the third is very friable and rapid-growing. The growth habit remains constant for a given clone in successive subcultures.

PMID: 17749633 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Now, I don’t purport to understand this. In fact, I can state categorically that I have no idea what this is about. However, since I run the number 1 cactus blog on the world wide web I am contractually obligated to present information that even I don’t know a thing about, and never will. So here you go.

If anyone can abstract this abstract down to one clear sentence, I will pay you $5.99, or send along a very lovely Echinopsis.

Blogs&How-to27 Jun 2008 10:06 am

It’s a Succulent Topiary from Gardening Fantasies. What’s not to like?

Now, do I have the ability to leave the blog entry that short, and to the point, without writing any commentary? Only time will tell…

Questions27 Jun 2008 08:03 am

It’s not good to have Pachypodium problems, I always say.

Hi Hap! What’s going on with my Lamerai’s?



It looks like you have at least two insect problems: Scale, the brown and tan bumps here and there on the leaves, as well as spider-mites. The leaf burn and curl is a combination of not liking the brand of Neem Oil you used on the tender new leaves and the bugs draining too much sap. The good news is it should grow out of it, but if the first application of Neem did not kill all the bugs (watch for little crawlers) I would suggest using a lower dilution of your Neem oil and respraying in a week, so it does not burn the new crop of leaves. If that does not work we can discuss more drastic measures….

Take care,

Blogs26 Jun 2008 05:00 pm

Shaunie’s Happy Place has a very nice little strawberry pot filled to the brim with Sempervivums. I’m sufre they’re delicious.

Misc26 Jun 2008 03:10 pm

Succulents have made it into the museum.

Palladium prints are beautiful and exotic entities — not unlike the succulents in Michael Eastman‘s images. Palladium prints are characterized by their beautiful, soft, velvety shades of gray. Images made through this process are extremely rich and detailed; think of early Steichen, Stieglitz and Weston photographs.

Eastman is a well-known St. Louis photographer whose work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others. Making a palladium print takes a lot of work — typically the process requires negatives the same size as the images — but Eastman overrides this cumbersome step by combining the vintage printing technique with digital imaging.

It’s good stuff. Go look at the photo.

Environment&News25 Jun 2008 10:46 am

Yesterday I posted on a report on the loss of desert habitat in Arizona and Nevada. Today the San Francisco Chronicle looks at soon to be lost habitat in California.

The Woolyleaf ceanothus would be at risk if California’s climate becomes much hotter, a study says. Photo by Michelle Cloud-Hughes, special to the Chronicle…

If temperatures rise rapidly in California this century, up to two-thirds of the state’s native plants might lose large swaths of suitable habitat, according to a new study….

“The pace of climate change in the next 100 years poses a very serious threat to California’s native plants,” said David Ackerly, a UC Berkeley biology professor and an author of the new study published in the PLoS One, the Public Library of Science.

Scientists know that plants can respond to changing climate over thousands of years, Ackerly said. “But in less than a century, there is very little chance for plants to establish new populations and to migrate to keep up with these dramatic changes.”

What can you do? Smallstuff and big stuff.

Interesting how such beautiful pictures can really change a discussion. Usually we see pictures of bears and tree frogs and other endangered animals. But plant pictures can be just as powerful. I’m really kind of dazzled by the blue.

Questions&Reader Photos25 Jun 2008 07:35 am

Would you kindly identify this cactus for me?
I have included several shots.
Thank you..

Echinopsis thelegonoides

Quotes25 Jun 2008 07:03 am

…There is only one issue here. Only one: the law issue.

Does the president serve the law, or does the law serve the president? Each insult to our Constitution comes from the same source; each springs from the same mindset; and if we attack this contempt for the law at any point, we will wound it at all points.

That is why I’m here today: Retroactive immunity is on the table today; but also at issue is the entire ideology that justifies it, the same ideology that defends torture and executive lawlessness. Immunity is a disgrace in itself, but it is far worse in what it represents. It tells us that some believe in the courts only so long as their verdict goes their way. That some only believe in the rule of law, so long as exceptions are made at their desire. It puts secrecy above sunshine and fiat above law.

Did the telecoms break the law? That, I don’t know.

But pass immunity…and we will never know. A handful of favored corporations will remain unchallenged. Their arguments will never be heard in a court of law. The truth behind this unprecedented domestic spying will never see light. And the cases will be closed forever.

“Law” is a word we barely hear from the supporters of immunity. They offer neither a deliberation about America’s difficult choices in the age of terrorism, nor a shared attempt to set for our times the excruciating balance between security and liberty. They merely promise a false debate on a false choice: security or liberty, but never, ever both….

Chris Dodd (D, CT) full video and text here.

Recipes24 Jun 2008 04:20 pm

It’s a recipe from Chef James. I don’t know who Chef James is. I don’t eat trout. I don’t know anything about anything. So here you go, you figure it out.

Orange Trout and Prickly Pear Cactus

The cactus might prickle at your touch, but it hides a succulent interior. Cactus leaves, or nopalitos, are available at Latino markets and in some grocery stores. They have a slightly tart taste that matches well with seafood and citrus. On the show, we served this with potatoes and sauteed mushrooms and spinach.

* 4 prickly pear cactus leaves
* 2 tablespoons butter, divided
* 4 whole trout (about 1 pound each), cleaned, boned, and scaled, with head and tail removed
(if you don’t know how, have the fishmonger do this when you buy the fish)
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* Juice of 1/4 large orange
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

You’ll have to click through for the instructions. I wonder if you can substitute a nice duck breast for the trout?

I think this qualifies as lazy blogging. Search for a cactus recipe, don’t try it out, reprint it without any real comments, and then go take a nap with a job not-so-well done.

The only thing left is to go take a nap, so I’m off…

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