Contents Volume 19. No 1

Spring 2008 

Editorial and more Trevor Wray
Start as you mean to go on (The Zone 6 Convention) Roland Tebbenham
Split rocks and broken credit cards Richard Booth
Letter from America Don Campbell
I only wanted a bird table Stephanie Bahja 
Euphoria gymnocalycioides Doug Rowland
Three new - ish books  Trevor Wray

click for a better image


Cover picture: One of my favourite genera is Echinocereus, there is so much variation and the flowers often last a week, by contrast with other cacti which bloom for only a day or two. This Echinocereus weinbergii was snapped at Warren Withers’ collection. I had a nice one for years but rot got into the site of one of the flowers, the buds burst through the skin of the plant. Memo to self: buy another!

You can click the picture for a better one.

EDITORIAL and more.....

What to write in the editorial this issue?

Hi Yorl,

I’m practising my American in readiness for a fieldtrip to the US deserts. That’s the good news. The bad is I shall miss the auction. This looks like it will be fun!

Welcome to members of Bedford Branch who have transferred to us. We have met several at meetings recently who seem to be enjoying themselves. It is sad when a long standing branch eventually finds it has to close but you will find us enthusiastic and naturally you will get your free edition of the rare smudgy-ink printed edition of Northants News.

As we look forward to another growing year you will probably be giving the first proper watering. (An improper watering is a dribble given to a plant which looks like it will die very shortly of drought. It then dies of rot!) It is time to look at your plants and have a bit of a sort out. I never do, but it seems like good seasonal advice. I do start in with the insecticide in an early watering session, with warmer weather the meallies get mobile and I reckon that as the plants take up water (and the systemic insecticide) the biting bugs will snuff it. This mostly seems to work.

Warm glow

When Sue and I went to Mexico we had an unused prepaid voucher for a night for two in a hotel chain. It included a ‘free’ breakfast but if I remember rightly we had used all the ‘free’ Margaritas tickets that came with it... The warm glow. We thought it would be useless to us but it turned out to be useless to us with a different kind of warm glow. We traded it for a donation to the US Societies conservation cause. Not a donation to a Brit-based conservation cause due to the difficulties of transferring dollars to quids. I am sure they would make just as good a use of it as the BCSS and it saved the exchange rate. At the price the purchaser had a bargain. So this voucher provided a warm glow thrice over.

The schwar… word

I was browsing the custom.dic again. (You remember that this is where all the personal spellings you add to your computer end up. It is also a great catalyst for small NN articles.) Lurking there were both schwartzii and schwarzii, could both of these be correct? Now I knew a Ferocactus, Mammillaria, Echinocereus and a Thelocactus species named after this person (these people). I am sure several members of the branch will know them, so how do you spell the specific names? Instead of reaching for the CITEs Checklist I bought out Urs Eggli’s Etymological Dictionary. Both Herman Schwartz and Fritz Schwarz have plants named after them but the cacti were all named after Fritz, (there is a Turbinicarpus as well). Herman has only a form of Senecio mweroensis named after him so I deleted schwartzii. But should I add mweroensis?

Sulcorebutia canigueralii WR281; the form with attractive flowers that prompted this article.


Writing this in 2007 it was a glorious day and I was trying to put off mowing the lawn The flowers on my plants from the Rebutia Group were spectacular (as always!) and my camera was out to capture each superb moment.

With this in mind I saw some startling flowers on a Sulcorebutia. The label said Sulcorebutia canigueralii WR281 and the one-inch plant was hidden under four lilac and white bicoloured flowers. The plant was a raffle prize I had won the previous year at a meeting, so this was a lucky selection.

Now I have been accumulating Sulcorebutias for many years because I like their form and flowers. S. canigueralii was one of my early acquired ‘names’ and that clone had bright orange-red flowers with a yellow throat. So another plant with impact in the spring. Interested, I looked out my other plants under the name ‘canigueralii’ and found two clones with the collection number HS71, one with dark red and one with magenta flowers. So here was a species with very variable flower colours.

If you are new to the hobby you will soon find that Sulcorebutia is a genus with far more names than species. Botanists and dedicated hobbyists have explored the habitats and found many new ‘species’. The botanists have then tried to take an objective look and sort out the names. For instance, the CITES checklist, (which the Ed often follows), lists alba, albaoides, brevispina, callecallensis, caracarensis, fisheriana, frankiana, inflexiseta, losenickyana, pasopayana, rauschii, ritteri, rubroaurea, tarabucoensis, vasqueziana, and zavaletae as obsolete names for canigueralii and crispatata and pulchra as subspecies. However I doubt if we will be changing the labels on our rauschii plants, at least in Middle England. The Checklist also has all the Sulcorebutia species as Rebutias and we might not be changing those either!

Plants with field numbers are especially desired and propagation from offsets is easy but there is further confusion over the years caused by misreading labels. Also the taxonomic confusion. Best advice is to just enjoy these plants and if you want the bicoloured WR281 canigueralii or the old red and yellow flowered one, better see me while I’m in a good mood.

An early acquisition; the old bicoloured clone of Sulcorebutia canigueralii Sulcorebutia canigueralii HS71, a magenta flowered form. Sulcorebutia canigueralii HS71, a red flowered form. The plant body is identical to that on the left

Swiss Army knives

The F.L. is officially retired, as you know, but still turns her hand to the odd bit of teaching. So it happened that year 2s were studying Mexico and Mrs. Wray was going there. Would Mrs. Wray give a lesson on her return about her travels?

During the three weeks we took pictures of typical Mexican things, or at least the Baja California things: high streets, shops, people, farms and houses. Naturally the F.L. explained why we were there and there were some stunning Ferocactus and Mammillaria pictures, ‘creeping devils’ and also magnificent views of the cardón and boojum forests.

What impressed those seven year olds most? Was it the dust, the poverty that many live in, the frequent military checkpoints? No, it was the Swiss Army penknives scattered all over the Mexico deserts. (I use it to give some scale to my pictures) They wanted a ‘spot the penknife’ competition!

Enjoy the magazine…


Cactus books

I have been known to use the internet to search for cactus books. I have been known to buy them. (More often than I should.) However here is a list of books which are probably not about cacti, despite their titles and probably would not interest us, (as cactus books).

Cow Chips and Cactus, Florence B. Smith (1962)

Cactus Hotel - Guiberson, Brenda Z./ Lloyd, Megan

Of Chiles, Cacti, and Fighting Cocks - Turner, Fr

Cactus by Anna Wilson

Cactus Thorn by Mary Austin (1988)

Love and the Cactus Kid/ Louis L'Amour

Cactus Soup by Eric A. Kimmel (2004)

Cactus Air Force by Thomas Miller (1987)

Tizz In Cactus Country by Elisa Bialk (1964)

Cactus Rose by Nora Fletcher

I have published this list to warn you. However there is an ulterior motive. On the internet edition this page will be found by all the people searching for the books I have listed. Is it just possible they might read our magazine and take up a lifetime interest in cacti? Most unlikely but it helps the ‘hit’ statistics and one day we will be more read than the Mammillaria Soc’s home page.



Northampton and Milton Keynes Branch of the B.C.S.S.

Back issues of the NMK Branch magazine

Northants News Volume 18.3

Northants News Volume 18.2

Northants News Volume 18.1

Northants News Volume 17.3

Northants News Volume 17.2

Northants News Volume 17.1

Northants News Volume 16.3