Ripley's Believe it or Not Cactus

(A) 16-foot cactus landing on a man gets attention from “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!”

…the 16-foot saguaro fell onto him and pinned him to the ground….

…There were also 146 cactus spines stuck in him….

OK, let’s get to the part where Ripley’s adds this to a book.

Ripley’s annual book of weirdness, Dare to Look!, tell us Mason’s featured in the “body” section… along with “giraffe women”… but it’s not in the same section as the guy who clipped 161 clothespins to his face…


Irish Succulents

Advice for children in Ireland, from Ask Marie.

Q: My young son wants to grow some succulents and cacti in a conservatory. Can you recommend some?

A: Head over to see the collection in the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin. It is one of my favourite places to visit and the variety is amazing.

Aloe and agave are good choices, as are lithops. If you have small children, it might be better to start off with the lithops, maybe little succulents and some sedums, as the spiny agave might cause injury.

OK, so I can’t agree with the 2nd part of this advice. Sure go visit the Dublin Gardens, the photos are nice! But suggesting you start a child off with Agaves or Lithops is criminal. Sure, an Aloe will be useful after the child gets stabbed by the Agave, but what will help with the tears when the Lithops rots and dies from overwater?

Delicious Cactus

A news story out of Texas without comment.

Georgetown Police Chief Wayne Nero said Stephanie Hoskins Brown drank the juice of a San Pedro cactus that was cooked so that it produced mescaline, a hallucinogenic drug that is illegal in Texas.

OK, I can’t not comment on this. But rather than comment on the specific Texas Police Officer and the specific Texas laws and the specific very conservative Texas legislature, I’d rather comment on the beautiful, stunning Big Bend NP in the SW corner of Texas. My comment is as follows, “It’s Great!”

Let me just add that you don’t cook an Echinopsis pachanoi to produce mescaline. You cook it to make it palatable. The mescaline was already there.

A Game of Guitar-Playing Cactuses

Hello Hero, a turn-based RPG for smartphones developed in Korea, is headed to the west. You control a team of five heroes across the planet of Armon, including quirky characters like a guitar-playing cactus and a spear-wielding shark.

Good to know. Here’s a video.

That’s not a very interesting looking cactus. I wouldn’t play that game.

It's a Prickly Pear Cactus Story from the 1930s!

This story comes to us from Kansas, homer to grasslands that are good for cows, not for cactus, according to the US Government.

Max Schick was a boy of 10 back in the mid ‘30s when the U.S. government paid people 50 cents an acre to rid their grass of prickly pear cactus.

You should click through to find out if he got spined. And don’t forget the arrowheads…

Great Britain has Cactus Talks

From the Spalding Guardian and the Lincolnshire Free Press we find out that Moulton will be hosting a Cactus Talk. Nice!

Before we get further into the details of this story, I just want to appreciate all those names. Spalding, Lincolnshire and Moulding. I mean Moulton.

Spalding is a lovely and scenic town “in the peaceful South Lincolnshire Fens”

with acres of sky and sunsets, (Spalding) is a town that has to be seen to be believed!

Here, see this picture to see what they’re talking about. So scenic! I recommend staying the night at The Beeches. And so scenic, too! Why, it’s in a converted barn! Now that’s what the cactus and succulent society is all about.

Back to the event.

Spalding Cactus and Succulent Society is hosting a talk by speaker Graham Charles on Favourite Plants in Habitat and Culture at its meeting at Moulton Community Centre on Friday (7pm).

The society meets on the third Friday of every month with a programme of interesting talks about plants, environment and wildlife. Everyone is welcome, refreshments are available, and admission is free.

I will promise to be there tomorrow night if I am anywhere near Moulton. How about you? I don’t yet have my reservation at The Beeches. And where will you be staying?

Overtly Artsy Photo Warning

The LA Times likes a cactus garden in Malibu, and publishes 18 separate photos! At least 3 of these are overtly artsy, especially the one with the 2 blue bottles (Photo #7, by Ricardo DeAratanha). It is a very strange choice for a newspaper to publish non-informative photographs, no matter how artistically composed and arranged.

But interesting!

When Kamm moved into the two-story, 1960s home on the hillside bluff overlooking the Malibu Colony, the 100-foot-long terrace had not a single plant. Because he had a severe brown thumb and had never cared for a garden in his life, he began buying cactuses and succulents: “the biggest, cheapest, least troublesome thing I could plant,” he said.

August is Prickly Pear Month

Apparently Seniors should be eating more Prickly Pear Fruit. So much so, that Senior Living has declared August’s fruit of the month to be…

Cactus Pear
By Sunrise Senior Living

prickly pear

The cactus pear also contains some nutrients that promote healthy senior living. According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers and doctors have said that the fruit may be able to decrease blood sugar levels for individuals who have Type 2 diabetes, and it’s also been known to treat high cholesterol and obesity.

The next time you head to a farmer’s market or a Latin grocery store, keep an eye out for these fruits.

Well, if you’re a senior who needs your cactus pear fix, I know Berkeley Bowl has some in stock right now, or you can come by Cactus Jungle and get some plants and plant them in the ground and wait til next year to get some delicious fruit of your own.

Click through to the article to find out how to properly prepare the prickly pears.

Big News in Western Montana

They were practically rioting in Montana yesterday for the cactus.

A night-blooming cactus causes quite a buzz Friday morning in the Floriculture Building at the Western Montana Fair after two large blossoms appeared on the plant overnight.

Wow! Click through for the picture. There are 2 blooms on this particular cactus, so you know it was twice the excitement.

Succulent Symposium

Each year on Labor Day weekend, the Huntington has a succulent plants symposium with five or six speakers covering a wide range of succulent plant topics. Included in the price of admission are a continental breakfast, lunch (that’s always very tasty), admission to the gardens especially to see the desert conservatory, the chance to purchase plants (including ISI releases). Optionally, you can have dinner there. All attendees are welcome to the after-dinner talk.

Here is the info from the Huntington website:

Succulent Plants Symposium
Aug. 31 (Saturday)
9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Gideon Smith of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) discusses aloes of southern Africa in the keynote address at this years symposium. Other speakers include Root Gorelick of Carleton University, Ottowa, and Panayoti Kelaidis of the Denver Botanic Garden. $75 including lunch. (Optional dinner an additional $25.) Registration: 626-405-3504. Botanical Center, Ahmanson Room

Spurge in the News

Euphorbia resinifera is a beautiful little succulent spurge from Morocco. Sulphur-yellow inflorescence! And apparently a very good shot at being a localized pain killer.

Recently researchers have begun working with a toxin found in a Moroccan cactuslike plant that may be able to deliver permanent, local pain relief with a single injection.

The compound, called resiniferatoxin (RTX), works by destroying the neurons specifically responsible for inflammatory pain.


Euphorbia sap in many Euphorbias seem to have lots of properties. Some not so good. We just got in a crop of Euphorbia antisyphilitica, which as its name would suggest is an old-timey old-west cure for the syphilis. Interesting! Also it’s common name is Candelilla, from which one could surmise that it has a waxy coating that could be used to make candles, if one were so disposed.

Euphorbia antisyphilitica

Euphorbia antisyphilitica

A New Fourth Street

They’ve finally gotten around to finally finishing up with the final coat of the repaving job of 4th Street in Berkeley! That’s us, our street that is, 4th Street, or Fourth if you prefer.

4th street berkeley

So pretty. So clean and pothole-free.

You can click on the picture to enlargen it and see just how clean and pothole-free it really is. You can look right into the individual particles of pavement and see how smooth and undisturbed they are. SO if you’ve been holding off visiting our store because of the horrible street or the construction, then hold off no longer! We are free!

Portland Thinks Cactus are Weird

Have some time to spare while in Portland? There’s an upcoming cactus and succulent show you can go visit.

The Oregon Cactus & Succulent Society Show and Sale will be held July 19-21 at Portland Nursery on Stark St. in Portland, Oregon. The event has the title: Succulent Plant Fest 2013: A Weirder Portland and Northwest One Plant at a Time! The hours are 9 am to 7pm Friday and Saturday, and 9 am to 4 pm on Sunday.

That sounds like fun. Not enough fun for me to travel to Portland just for this fun event from Berkeley, but if I were within a 2 hour drive I would. Really!

San Diego Succulents

Ever wonder what to do when you’re hanging around San Diego? Well, you could meet famed succulent author and gardener Debra Lee Baldwin. Bring the kids! It’s a fun day for everyone.

Debra Lee Baldwin, and her new book, Succulents Simplified, will be at the San Diego Horticultural Society on Monday July 8.

The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Surfside Race Place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Admission for non-members is $10. She’ll be signing her new book, Succulents Simplified.

And then there’s a followup at Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar (Orange County) at 9 a.m. July 27. Free.

News Item

June is a big month for succulents in Great Britain.

A local branch of a national organisation for cacti enthusiasts is holding its annual plant show in June.

The Bradford branch of the British Cactus and Succulent Society, which also covers Keighley, is staging the event on Saturday, June 8 at Shipley library.

Are you going to be there, too?

In case you are going, here’s what the library looks like.



Cactus and Balloons

Who knew that if you attached some balloons to a Beavertail Cactus you could sell tickets to it.

Cactus and balloons

(In) Rodney Graham’s latest exhibition at Lisson Gallery (29 Bell Street, London, UK),… Cactus Fan depicts a scientist pondering a strange object, perhaps a gift: a cactus plant with four vibrantly coloured helium balloons attached to it.

I’m guessing that what we have a here is a scientist, or more specifically a botanist, who is experimenting with the effects of weightlessness in outer-space on the growth habits of a common cactus. However this particular scientist does not have the budget to complete the experiment in space, so instead we get balloons. The helium will have dissipated in a day or two, so the scientist in question must constantly remain on vigil and replace these balloons quickly and efficiently multiple times per week.

Nursery Gifts

We are expanding the gift selection at the nursery to include bird hooks and squirrel pots. Yes!

qualy bird hook

Bird hooks. We hang little planters off them. They work well with Tillandsias too and they come in Squirrel hooks too. Yo. Now please be sure to understand that we only add these as pure nursery goods. You won’t see us use these hooks for coats. No. Only for hanging plants and plants and other plants too.

self watering squirrel pot

Well played! This self watering squirrel in a log pot. We put a fern on top for fun. Fun.

Straw Flowers

Apparently straw flowers are an Aztec tradition.

Years ago I traveled to the nursery district at Xochimilco, the ancient Aztec “place of the flowers” outside Mexico City…


At Xochemilco there’s a big tradition of gift plants, and the Mexican way of potting them up demands big color. Many of these are set amidst moss or day-glo gravels…

Well, sure, I can understand that. Brightly colored gravel can enhance the natural coloring of the cactus. Seems reasonable.

Since the cactus did not have blooms due to youth or season, the small growers used small dried flax flowers with their needle-like stems. These would be attached by sticking the stem into the cactus flesh for anchorage. Though they may sell better with color, it’s not a sound practice. These punctures can become an inroad for fungus and bacteria to enter sterile tissues every time they’re watered.

Oh that’s not good.

Cleveland Cactus Get a Makeover

It’s that time of the year in Ohio when the Cleveland area residents who like to purchase some cactus get together and have a show. And they grandiosely call it the Midwest Cactus and Succulent Show. I wonder how the people in MN and IN and IA all feel about that cooptation?

Anyway, on to the details.

(T)he Midwest Cactus and Succulent Society Show and Sale (is this) Saturday and Sunday at Cleveland Botanical Garden…..

The cactus event is getting more space this year. Previously, the show and sale took place in the same room. This year the display will be in one space and the sale in another.

Now that’s is good news.

Cactus enthusiasts are intrigued by the vast variety of the plants’ shapes, sizes, textures and colors, says Hendricks, president of Klyn Nurseries in Perry.

As are we all.

Mixed Succulent Pots

Creature Comforts puts together a nice mixed succulent pot, and does a good job of naming all the plants.

The thing is, that even though I have been a horrid gardener up to this point in my life, I have always had a deep affinity for succulents. They will forever remind me of childhood visits with my grandparents here in California. As a kid who lived neck-deep in snow most of the year in Minnesota and Montana, stepping off the airplane and into a place warm with sun and brimming with plants and flowers was something more than just a little bit magical to me.

Click through to see all the pictures.

Garden Show

Are you going to the SF Garden Show in San Mateo this weekend? Send me links to your pictures, (or send pictures!) and don’t forget to check out the giant succulent globe.

That’s big! And probably more interesting to view surrounded by crowds of people rather than all alone during the setup. They should really replace that video now that the show is open.

Blue Carnivores

Anne found an article on the Beeb letting us know that Nepenthes can sometimes glow blue.

Yes, blue.

How blue? Well, blue enough that it looks like the carnivorous plants have cold lips.

Snow in California

We get lots of snow in California. Or in parts of California. Like Lake Tahoe. They get lots of snow. Not us. Apparently they don’t get lots of snow in Yucca Valley, CA either, but enough snow that it sometimes snows there like when CNN reports on the snow covering the cactus in Yucca Valley.

cactus in the snow

Cactus Pain in San Diego

Crews rescue man after he falls into a San Diego canyon onto a cactus

SAN DIEGO – …Crews said the 50-year-old man got off a bus a few stops too early and wasn’t familiar with the area. As he was walking along the roadway in an area without a guardrail and no sidewalk, he slipped and fell about 50 feet into the cactus….

Authorities said he suffered puncture wounds from the cactus.

I’m kind of glad they did not include a picture of the man with the article. I mean, sure, it can be humorous to watch someone in, say, a movie fall into a cactus and all, but in real life it would hurt. Although still funny. But hurt bad. And cause people to laugh out loud I’m sure. But no picture.

It's a Lecture! A Cactus Lecture!

South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society Lecture
Sunday, Feb 10 1:30p
South Coast Botanic Garden Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA

Peter Walkowiak from San Diego will give a hands-on demonstration on “How to grow and hybridize Euphorbias — Medusa and Caudex forms.” Peter has won many awards for his plants and will be bringing some of those to sell.

Actually that does seem pretty interesting, though not much to do with cactus at all. I guess my headline above is totally misleading – both for its sarcastic tone and the reference to cactus.

Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration

You can help restore cactus wren habitat! But only if you happen to be in Irvine this weekend, or are willing to drive there ASAP.

Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration
Saturday, Feb 2 9:00a to 12:30p

Help the recovery and movement of the cactus wren in the City of Irvine and surrounding open space areas. The project area is one of several that have been arranged in a line-of-sight fashion in an attempt to facilitate a rebound of cactus wrens. Volunteers will plant cactus using special tools. Bring water, snacks, sun protection, long sleeves, long pants, a hat, and good shoes. Tools, safety equipment, will be provided by Irvine Ranch Conservancy. Pre-registration is required.

They’re so cute! Those cactus wrens….

San Francisco Succulents

I see that the San Francisco Chronicle is recommending that you decorate your house with succulents for the holidays. And I thought it was all about the terrariums this year.

As you spruce up your home for the holidays… There are many wonderful hanging plants, but some of my favorites are succulents….

Succulents possess a singular charm unlike any other kind of houseplant, and look fabulous when cascading out of a hanging basket. And there is a surprising number to choose from. One favorite is a plant commonly known as burro’s tail, Sedum morganianum

For something a little more delicate, there is string of pearls, Senecio rowleyanus

Feeling romantic? How about substituting a string of hearts for mistletoe, (Ceropegia woodii)…

Finally, for something a bit unusual, look for Hoya compacta, curiously known as Hindu rope.

Cactus Jungle is the only local nursery that grows and carries all the plants they recommend. Do you think they list us at the bottom of the article as a source for these plants in the Bay Area? No.

Don't Feel Like Going Shopping Today?

If you wait a couple weeks there’s a craft fair in San Francisco. We’re not represented there, so I don’t recommend holding off shopping at the Cactus Jungle, but for the other stuff – go for it!

SFMade Holiday Gift Fair
December 9, Sunday
Herbst Pavilion at Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
10am – 6pm

Join more than 75 SFMade members, including Heath Ceramics and Bi-Rite Market for this one-day holiday fair.

May 2024

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