June 2009

News30 Jun 2009 01:18 pm

At the intersection of marijuana and cactus one can get hurt. Out of Florida comes the crime report.

An undocumented alien jumped out a window and escaped during a raid Tuesday night on a marijuana grow house in Levy County…. Task force members said Lopez was… in his bare feet when he was last seen… running across a field dotted with prickly pear cactus plants.

All together now: “Ouch.”

Photography30 Jun 2009 10:35 am


Rebutia krainziana

These small cacti can get as big as 2 to 3 inches! Totally amazing, if you ask me. Usually the flowers are more red than this, but as we know from our discussions over the past few days, I’m a big fan of….

Natural Variation! Yay!

Also, the contrast in the dark stems with the white spine color is very striking even when it’s not in bloom. You do have to look beyond the brightly colored flowers when they’re open to see the small cactus lurking behind it, though.

Did I mention that the genus was named after a 19th century French cactus dealer by the name of Pierre Rebut? Well, since it’s rebutia season, I thought you should know. Oddly, it was grouped and named by a German botanist, Karl Moritz Schumann from Görlitz.


Rebutias are very popular because not only are the flowers brightly colored and quite large compared to the tiny plant, but there are a lot of them all spring and summer long (depending on the species.)

News30 Jun 2009 08:14 am

The NYTimes is featuring succulent containers from Claverack, N.Y.


Stewart Cairns for The New York Times
An agave is the star among hawkweed, allium and hens-and-chicks.

Nice containers.

News29 Jun 2009 01:17 pm

They’ve planted some Opuntia fragilis in a parking strip up in Washington.


Volunteer Janet Mullen shows where a third cactus bloom is starting among the collection of Sequim cactus in the planter strip outside the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, 1192 E. Washington St. Photos by Brian Gawley.

If you click through the link you’ll get to see a close-up of the cactus and the flower. I’ve never seen such a large patch of O. fragilis. Usually they’re tiny scraggly bits and pieces with dead spots and weeds; really just a horrible nasty mess. Although we do sell some wonderful little pots of the stuff at the nursery. Anyway, clearly that doesn’t apply to this patch. It appears to be lovingly tended.

Misc29 Jun 2009 11:26 am

From the Telegraph, an article that will set your hair on fire.


Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ has rich, polished dark purple foliage and will tolerate near zero temperatures. Photo: Timber Press

You know, at first that didn’t make sense, since Aeoniums are from the Canary Islands and they really can’t get down as low as 0° F and then of course I realized they were talking C! And then all the advice is right after all! Yay!

On the other hand, this photo credit for the publishing company is rather limited in its generousness. I’ve looked through our Timber Press books and I can’t find the picture, so I can’t give you a better photo credit. If anyone knows the photographer, let them know we are borrowing their photo from the Telegraph without proper credit.

Photography29 Jun 2009 10:20 am

Here we have an attempt at a photographic study of the natural color variation of the flowers for the small cactus Echinopsis chamaecereus, also known as the peanut cactus. The stems also vary quite a bit, but that’s for another day.

I know a lot of cactus growers maintain stocks of named varieties of this plant and some call it other species entirely. But you know, I like this for its natural variation, and insist that it is all one plant.

On the other hand, the photographing of the shift from orange to red in these 3 photos was a tough order, so maybe you can’t even tell what I’m talking about. So on to the pictures!




Misc29 Jun 2009 07:41 am

Out of Fremont comes this sensible suggestion for the East Bay.

(W)eekends are best spent at the local nursery, shopping for succulents and flowering perennials to fill your garden.

I should hire the writer as our PR person.

Photography28 Jun 2009 12:09 pm


Rebutia pygmaea

I love these tiny cacti with the big sherbert flowers that hold off until the late afternoon heat. Rebutias in general are very small plants, and this is the smallest of them. No more than an inch or so. But then they are a variable species, so over the years they have been given many names.

Misc27 Jun 2009 04:02 pm


California Native Plants&Photography27 Jun 2009 11:08 am


Dudleya cymosa

This is one of the more attractive dudleyas we’re growing. Fat green leaves with bright red edges, and these spectacular bloom displays – as much for the red color of the bloom stalks as for the pale yellow flowers.

Dudleyas were named for famed Stanford forester (and botanist) William Russell Dudley.

I wonder if I’ll ever get a plant named after me?

News27 Jun 2009 07:11 am

Cacti need about half the quantity of water required for keeping citrus and subtropical fruits such as mango.

That is interesting, as more of the world becomes arid over the coming decades. I wonder what this is all about?

Cactus Sun says a wide array of foods can be produced from cacti…without leaving any trace of thorns.

More importantly, cacti need very little water. And they are ideal for developing countries with arid climates that endure droughts…

Ahhh, very good. Plant more edible cactus, save water, and eat a hearty meal of cactus pads and cactus fruits.

Whippets26 Jun 2009 03:47 pm

Not just for whippets, of course, but mostly.


via Balloon Juice.

Photography26 Jun 2009 11:28 am


Tacitus bellus

This was once considered a Graptopetalum, but then someone who shall remain anonymous decided that the large flowers with lips around the carpels demanded its own genus. So now you know. I don’t know of any other species in this genus.

What is so different, besides the flowers, is the flatness of the rosette. Quite startling.

As is usual with crassulaceae, the aphids like the blooms.

Whippets26 Jun 2009 08:48 am


Recipes25 Jun 2009 01:47 pm

So, people ask us, what can they use agave syrup for?

Fear not, it is an easy recipe that even I could follow, not that I have yet, but I might.

Agave BBQ Sauce

1 Can Tomato Puree
1/2 Cup Agave Nectar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 to 3 Tablespoons vegetable (coconut oil)
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

1 Teaspoon Prepared Mustard
Dash cayenne pepper or bottled hot pepper sauce

Combine all ingredients in sauce pan. Can bring to a boil to use as a dipping sauce or placed directly on BBQ items.

Man oh man that seems easy. It’s my turn to cook tonight, so maybe I’ll try it out.

Reader Photos25 Jun 2009 01:04 pm


Muk posted this photo of an Echinocereus grandiflora hybrid in bloom.

You can see more photos on our Facebook page.

News&Science25 Jun 2009 09:47 am

A cactus-based sugary syrup has become the latest darling of the alternative-sweetener world.

Once mostly unheard of outside natural food stores, agave syrup — made from the same Mexican cactus that yields tequila — suddenly is getting celebrity endorsements, competing for shelf space at mainstream grocers and is a must-have cocktail ingredient.

“If I’m going to be making a premium margarita, agave nectar’s got to be riding shotgun,” says Food Network star Guy Fieri, better known for his greasy spoon affection than his natural foods know-how.

Now I’m a big fan of agave syrup, using it for cocktails as well as for cooking, but having been in the cactus business now for a while I feel the cactus pedant coming out. Look out.

Agave is not a cactus. It is a succulent in the lily family (liliaceae) or at least the agave family (agavaceae) depending on who you ask.

Agave is a genus within the family Agavaceae, which is currently placed within the order Asparagales. Agaves were once classified in Liliaceae, but most references now include them in their own family, Agavaceae.

But definitely not a cactus, for it has no areoles.



Reader Photos24 Jun 2009 10:22 am

We have a very nice Euphorbia photo from Geoff in Britain. His dad is in the picture, and we understand he likes to call it a “Cowboy Cactus”. Indeed many people ask us for a cactus like those in the old westerns, and this is what they mean, even though it’s from Africa. Now you know.


Misc24 Jun 2009 08:17 am

Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series showcasing homes and gardens of distinction in Ventura County.


Pictured are a cluster of sedum, foreground; a flow of senecio serpens, center; and agave victoriae-reginae and aloe plicatilis, in rear of Chris Biehl’s dry garden.

Plus a nice echinocereus in the middle and a hoodia off to the left. I also see echeveria, a couple more aloe species, and even the corner of a graptopetalum. Anything else I’m missing?

Photography23 Jun 2009 03:52 pm

2 very interesting common names, the first in english, the 2nd in zulu.


Albuca nelsonii

It is found “on coastal cliffs in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.”

It is an easy to grow perennial bulb that has spectacular bloom sprays right about this particular time of year, indeed. You can also make an infusion from the bulbs to ward off sorcery.

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