Contents Volume 20. No 2

Summer 2009


Editorial and more Trevor Wray
Cacti on the Backpacker Trail  Andrew and Roland Tebbenham
Gordon's Stapelia 1 Trevor Wray
Gordon's Stapelia 2 Colin C Walker
Some Flowers in July  Roland Tebbenham
Not According to Schedule Trevor Wray
The Zone 6 Show 2009 Trevor Wray
The Branch Show 2009 Trevor Wray

Adenium obesum

Cover picture: I liked Roland’s picture of Adenium obesum so much I cropped the flower and elevated it to front page status. You can read his article on Page 13. I mean click here. Now was it Adenium or Adenia? How about a cactus? I promise you a cactus image in November.




EDITORIAL and more.....

At the AGM our Secretary Diana reported mixed fortunes at our plant stalls throughout the area. There was some appalling weather in 2008! The Christmas Fair at Kelmarsh seemed to be the climax; Diana says…

‘In December we had a stall at the Christmas Fair at Kelmarsh Hall. Wednesday evening turned out to be a bit of a nightmare as it was a very cold night and we were in a marquee. First of all the generator ran out of diesel and it took about an hour and a half to get some more. They had just got the generator working and the main fuse blew so now we were without heating and lighting and therefore no means of heating water for drinks. Has anyone ever tried selling plants with a little tea light and small lights on keyrings. It was another hour and a half before the fuse was mended and nearly time to go home - frozen to the core. I don’t think it needs to be said that it was not a very successful evening’.

Thanks Diana for bringing us an insight into the trials and tribulations of missionary work in the Cactus World. Incidentally I later learnt that the best selling item there was ‘Paper Whites’, not a Christmas cactus (though these sold well) but a daffodil. Whatever next?

A greenhouse dilemma

For years when I had children at home I didn’t grow Opuntias at all. Now I try to keep my Opuntias at arms length, so to speak. Up on shelves and at the back of the staging is the safest.

So at 3.15pm on Wednesday 5th September (both the camera and my watch agree) I leaned over a Tephrocactus and felt a sharp pain. Yikes! A vivid demonstration of how this type of (loosely) jointed cactus is spread in the wild. The botanists will explain why the spines on these cacti have super penetration. Sheathed spines spring to mind. I just know it is true and a primary reason to wear stout boots in the desert.

And the greenhouse dilemma? Whether to pull the offending pad off my arm as quickly as possible or call Sue to take the photo first. Guess which I chose. After all, I could see a short NN article there. After a careful application of fine-nose pliers, (you surely have a pair in the greenhouse?), I was able to dab up the blood and resume my inspection of plants. And the offending ‘cutting’ soon rooted and headed for the sales table. It was cheap!

Cactuses or cacti?

It is a fact that plurals in English are made by adding s to the singular. If the word already ends in an s then the plural adds es. Easy. If it ends in y (but not ey the FL says) then funny things happen but never mind. So the plural of cactus is cactuses. As in the ‘Cactuses of Big Bend, Texas’ But cactus is a Latin word, so the plural is cacti, as in ‘The Cacti of the United States’. Both are correct (at least in this computer’s spell-checker), and you can use either. Strangely however the plural of cactus can also be cactus. One Melocactus, two Melocactus. Or Melocacti, or even (possibly) Melocactuses.

So what plural do we use in Northants Country? Simple; the plural of cactus is cacti. Cactuses is (or should that be are?) for those Americans and Cactus as a plural is for them botanists.

Having dealt with the semantics of ‘cactus’ you will know that the plural of species is species. Should the singular actually be specie? I don’t think we will go down that road! And while we are on that topic the plural of genus is genera. Did you even think that it was genuses? Or genii? You don’t have to be a genius to know that.


I was looking through Graham Charles’ plant list and wondering about Yungasocereus, the way you do. Now cereus things, (and quite a few serious things), are largely ignored here, but I thought I ought to see what it looks like. A Google image search gave the answer; superficially it looks like Trichocereus grafting stock. Of course it can’t be, otherwise it would be Trichocereus.

The purpose of this little article is to highlight the strange things that Google image searches think are relevant. Six among the first dozen ‘hits’ (and especially the first four) are similar looking cereus plants which should be the genus. So Google at least achieved the distinction of letting me know what it looks like. However picture five shows some Lithops, six some clip-art, seven Aeonium arborescens and eight a Mammillaria. Picture 24 shows the cover of EVJ’s book on Gasterias. Naturally with any web search the curious dip here and there and, though I didn’t learn anything that especially encouraged me to buy a seedling Yungasocereus, I did learn a lot about our sorta plants.

I expect that you would like to know that Yungasocereus is in the Cleistocactus Subgroup of Cereus for show purposes.

A Prickly Affair

The FL had asked me for some Christmas present suggestions. A new Ferrari,.. a hundred foot greenhouse… a life-size inflatable Auntie G… More realistically we were in the Wisley Gift Shop and I saw just the book piled up in the ‘Sale’ section. ‘A Prickly Affair’. Just the thing for the cactophile. When I looked closer I was disappointed. Click here,

This edition of our magazine brings you some of the adventures of Andrew Tebbenham. (Oh to backpack round the World. Well, maybe only the deserts. )

There is also the last word on a cheap print of a succulent. Funny how an impulse purchase can fill over two NN pages. Roland brings us some attractive cacti and succulents, flowering in his greenhouse last July.

Then there are some fillers from me. Enjoy.




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

Back issues of the NMK Branch magazine

Northants News Volume 20.1

Northants News Volume 19.3

Northants News Volume 19.2

Northants News Volume 19.1

Northants News Volume 18.3

Northants News Volume 18.2