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Peter Lipson
Hap Hollibaugh

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Hats! Hats! Hats!


I’m sure there are dozens more cactus hats out there for me to feature today on what has turned out to be “Cactus Hat” day at Cactus Blog, and if you send me your cactus hat photo, I promise I’ll post it, but first we have the most amazing…

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Cactus Hat Rack!

Now this is some serious hat rack. It sold for $3000 in July. It has an artist’s name attached to it. Wow.

Artist Name: Guido Drocco & Franco Mello
Manufacturer: Gufram
Description: “Cactus” hat rack
Circa: designed 1960s

I love this hat rack. Anyone know of another one available for sale? Maybe slightly chipped?

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Ant Farm


We now carry ant farms at the nursery. I was so excited I just had to tell you.

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And it comes with seeds and tools and things too!

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Pachypodium namaquanum


A Riverside County couple travels to South Africa to “borrow” some seeds from some of the driest and rarest succulents around. I hope they left some seeds behind too.

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Special to The Press-Enterprise
Buck Hemenway stands beside a Halfmen’s succulent, found in South Africa. Hemenway owns a wholesale succulent and cactus company in Riverside and travels abroad.

Digging a little deeper, we find this picture from last year of the Hemenway’s new garden.

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Special to The Press-Enterprise
Buck and Yvonne Hemenway, of Riverside, will display their back yard filled with drought-tolerant plants at the ninth annual Garden Tour and Plant Sale this weekend.

Now that’s a lot of cactus. And they ripped out a lawn to install it.

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Montana Cactus


…is made of glass!

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“For more than 30 years, I’ve been fascinated by glass, and the process of pinching and pulling and stretching glass as it melts into something new,” says artist Barbara Dillon, whose work is on display at the Missoula Artists’ Shop in downtown. Photo by KURT WILSON/Missoulian

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Alcatraz


Succulent gardens on Alcatraz are blooming.

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Today, thanks to dozens of green-thumbed volunteers and Garden Conservancy staff, Alcatraz is blooming again. (Provided by the Garden Conservancy)

Here’s my photo of the leading edge of the island covered by Agave americanas, many of them in bloom.

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Closer… (more…)

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Endangered Cactus Still Endangered


This review shows that the Obama administration has not substantially improved the dismal record of the Bush administration in providing protection to the nation’s critically endangered wildlife,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity….

“Continued delays in protection of these 249 species is a failure of leadership by Interior Secretary Salazar,” said Greenwald….

Florida semaphore cactus: The Florida semaphore cactus has been waiting for protection for six years. It is a large prickly pear cactus from the Florida Keys that was thought to have been driven extinct by cactus collectors and road construction in the late 1970s, but was rediscovered in the mid-1980s. Much of its historic habitat has fallen prey to development, destruction, and fragmentation. Only two populations remain.

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Ghost


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Euphorbia lactea crest “Ghost”

So many things going on here. First we have a crest, a process of fasciation, possibly caused by a virus, whereby the growing tip, the apical meristem, grows perpendicular to the stem rather than from a single point as normal.

Then we have the “ghosting” where by the plant has lost most of it’s chlorophyll, also probably through a virus. Now normally for a ghost plant to survive, myco-heterotrophy will provide the food needed as it takes advantage of a symbiotic relationship with certain fungi. However, in this particular case, this ghosted crest has not successfully developed it’s long-term relationship to the fungi to be able to comfortably rely on them enough, or at all. So off to the grafters we go.

And we see that this crest is in fact grafted onto another euphorbia which serves as the rootstock for this ghosted crested scion.

And all this just so that we may enjoy this stunning plant. Or for you, this photo.

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Blue Sage


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It’s the soft and lovely blue-flowered Salvia chamaedryoides, perfect for a cold but sunny Sunday morning with bagels and cream cheese. Coffee helps too.

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€ 100.00


What’s made in Italy, ceramic and hand-blown glass, with a cactus inside? Wait! Don’t guess yet. It’s also 10″ tall and has legs. Did I mention that it costs € 100.00? That’s about $150! But they’re not yet available in the US.

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It’s from Monotono and called Domsai, and there’s also a € 500.00 model. I’d be first in line to import them, if the planter without plant would retail for about $85 each.

Oh well. Here have another one.

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Cute only cuts it so far in the hardscrabble world of cactus.

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Naturally Occurring Drugs


The Chicago Tribune has all the latest in Euphorbia drug news.

An Illinois researcher has received a $1.4 million-dollar federal grant to study a potential new… experimental drug (that) comes from a cactus-like plant…

The drug is called Resiniferatoxin (reh-sin-ih-FEHR-oh-tox-in). It’s injected directly into the spinal cord.

Good to know some of those poisonous euphorbias can be useful for more than just causing screaming pain.

Here’s the plant it comes from (via wikipedia)

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Euphorbia resinifera
Photo: Valérie & Agnès, Jardin botanique de Barcelone

That is a very nice plant. I want one. Do you think the researchers will share with me? It looks easy enough to break off a branch and send it to Berkeley. I suppose they could happen upon this blog post and send me a cutting.

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Cleaning the Canopy


Mike is the newest member of the Cactus Jungle team. He’s a tree person, but here he is cleaning the canopy that we’re putting up for winter. I think it’s to keep the Pachypodiums warm.

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Nice pots.

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Monkey Plant


It’s the monkey plant, and it makes me want to sing a song.

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Ruellia makoyana

The Monkey Plant Song

I long for the days of the monkey plant days
When the evenings are cooler than the days!

Oh I wish to belong in the monkey plant days
‘Cause my monkey plants love to play! All day!

In the monkey plant days there are gumdrops galore
And in monkey plant days there are no more chores

(All together now!)
Oh I wish to belong in the monkey plant days
‘Cause my monkey plants love to play! All day!

Do you have any verses to add to that?

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Bromeliad Story


Danger Garden rescued a giant bromeliad from their office lobby, and it turns out it’s a Vriesea imperialis. Good times.

And how did they know this? Why, they saw one at Cactus Jungle! Photos ensued.

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Cows


Have you been looking for a new alternative cow feed for your cows? Let me suggest a new alternative for you. Cactus from China is the latest cow feed on the market and you can bet that’s the latest alternative on the market! Your cows will “have a cow” until you feed them cactus.

Organic animal feed extracted from cactus is… a patented animal feed marketed by China Kangtai Cactus Bio-Tech Inc.

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Spur Flower


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Plectranthus “Mona Lavender”

We recently started carrying the various plectranthuses because they’re moderately drought tolerant in our climate, can handle light shade, and produce a lot of small orchid-like flowers.

They also make good hanging-basket houseplants. This is a very flexible plant. Why didn’t we think of it before?

It’s a hybrid that was cultivated in South Africa, at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. It takes more water in South Africa than here, but if it’s indoor regular water is a must.

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Orchid


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This Phalaenopsis is what we in the nursery business like to call “pretty.” Even the unopened buds at the top of the bloom spike are pretty. Someone should figure out a way to reproduce these pretty flowers.

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How to Eat Cactus Fruit


The fruit from the Cereus peruvianus is called a Cactus Apple, and the St. Petersburg Times has a reader who knows how best to eat them.

Paul Zmoda has been growing the (Peruvian apple) cactus at his research facility, Flatwoods Fruit Farm in Riverview. He says that aside from eating the pulp fresh, he recommends serving frozen thin slices sprinkled with sugar and lime juice. The pink peel can also be candied. Paul thinks that the rind might even make good sweet and sour pickles similar to watermelon pickles.

Our plants don’t fruit, since they need to be pollinated by bats and we don’t have bats at the nursery.

You can buy seeds from Trade Winds Fruit, and see what they have to offer in all kinds of tropical fruits, even though this is not a tropical fruit.

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They also sell Saguaro seeds.

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San Francisco


From the SF Chronicle comes this creative use of succulents.

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Baylor Chapman, owner and floral designer of Lila B. Design in the Mission District, is known for sustainable gardens.

Photo: Russell Yip / The Chronicle

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Castle Update


More than 60 local UPS workers got together Saturday morning to help put the finishing touches on the restoration of the Carraro Cactus Gardens that surround the Tovrea Castle.

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Nice job, UPSers. Or is it UPSites? UPSaloopers?

Anyway, if you didn’t know, we’re talking Phoenix here.

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Dropped Leaves


Hello- I purchased this beautiful plant a few weeks ago from you and I am concerned about it’s dropped leaves. Is this normal due to the stress of a new environment? She lives inside, gets about an hour at most of late afternoon sun. She still looks healthy, new growth still alive but just by looking at her she drops leaves! Please help, I love this plant! Thanks, Jen

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Jen,

It does look like it is most likely “new home stress” with an additional bit of autumn leaf drop, to make it look worse than it really is. In the current low light conditions, make sure not to water more than every two to three weeks, perhaps even less this winter. It needs to “nap” through winter and grow when there is more light coming in the window. If it starts getting “floppy” it is letting you know it needs more light. However Portulacaria are durable plants and as long as they are getting the right amount of water for their location can usually adapt well to all sorts of situations. Please let me know if the leaf drop continues.

Take care,

Hap

Great answer Hap, and quite caring too. Have you noticed how Hap answers questions in a more kindly tone? I’m more direct. Hap’s the friendly one.

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Yale Fail


The Yale Daily News has an article about some stolen cactus from the botanic garden, and some other stuff too – it’s a long article – but this is what caught my interest.

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Marsh Botanic Garden manager Eric Larson examines ripening bananas in one of the Garden’s greenhouses. Sean Fraga/Contributing Photographer

I may not know all the banana species you might find at a botanic garden in Connecticut, but I know a carnivorous Nepenthes pitcher plant species when I see one. In case you were thinking that maybe he’s reaching for a banana behind the nepenthes, click the photo for the giant version, and you can see he’s actually holding one of the pitchers of the pitcher plant.

That was fun! But wait! That’s not all the fail we have at Yale today. To the article!

Eric Larson, the manager of the Garden, said the stolen cacti were among the most valuable plants in the Garden’s collection. Eight of the plants were of the genus conophytum — quarter-sized clusters of cacti — and were located in one small tray, he said.

And there we have the classic conflation of cacti and succulents. Conophytums are in the Aizoaceae family, formerly of the Mesembryanthemaceae family, also known as “Mesembs” like the Ice Plant and Lithops, or Living Stones; but definitely not the Cactus (Cactaceaa) family. Conophytums are from South Africa, as opposed to Cacti that are from the Americas. Wow, that was geeky.

Normally, I wouldn’t bother to correct some student journalists getting some basic facts wrong, because who cares really, but it was the photo of the “Bananas” that got my attention, and so once I got started I couldn’t be stopped. Until now…

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Evolution


I recently bought Richard Dawkins latest epic, “The Greatest Show on Earth” but I haven’t had the time to read it yet, what with the latest issue of Archie Comics having just come out. But the San Francisco Chronicle has this little gem from the book:

An “evolutionary arms race” pits cacti in the Galapagos against browsing tortoises, so the cactus grows taller to escape the browsers and the browsers evolve saddle-backed shells that enable them to stretch higher for the cacti.

I can’t wait. Tortoises AND cactus, together in one book! Exclamation points for everyone!

Science! (more…)

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Unusual Plant


hello Cactus Jungle,

You guys are awesome and I’m hoping you can help me identify the plant in the pictures I’ve attached. I’ve done hours of online research and I think it’s a caudiciform that’s related to the Pachypodium; maybe that’s redundant. I only say this because of the coloring, overall look, texture, and thorns but I haven’t been able to find anything that shares the exact characteristics (yellow flowers, long narrow leaves, binary growing pattern). Maybe it’s some sort of hybrid??

plant 1 plant 4

I bought the plant last December at a winter craft fair and the dude who sold it told me it was a succulent daisy. This is the first time it has had flowers, and they do sorta look like daisies but I dunno… Other factoids: it is dormant in spring and summer (when I bought it it was covered in those green leaves), I haven’t watered it in at least 2 or 3 weeks and there’s new growth, the new growth sprouts from those fuzzy-looking white things in the pictures. Does any of this info help or sound familiar?

thanks in advance for anything you can offer!

Leo

Leo,

After a day (or two) of blanking it finally came to me! Othonna euphorbiodes! A cool succulent shrub in the Asteraceae (daisy) family from the Cape province of South Africa. It is a winter grower, so keep in good light and water occasionally this winter, it should leaf out and put on a show.

Nice plant!

Take care,

Hap

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