Contents Volume 26. No 3
Colin C. Walker
This plant of Echinocereus knippelianus var. kruegeri was growing on a hill in Chihuahua, Mexico. By a strange coincidence you can read about it here.
EDITORIAL and more.....
I enjoy growing
plants from seed. Especially Lithops, (and other mesembs); it is interesting to
see the variation. To produce seeds from species or those fashionable fancy
colour forms is easy; a finger dibbled between two or more newly opened flowers
on different plants will produce thousands of seeds. This method suits my lazy
demeanour and meanness – it works and cost nothing, (no expensive brushes).
The ‘newly opened’ is quite important as my greenhouses are not screened to
exclude bees. The early finger increases the chances that the seeds will likely
be true. Pollinated Lithops flowers quickly close up. If they germinate and look
like the originals is good enough for me. I do not produce seed for commercial
Extracting the seed
is easy. The capsules are put in a dish of water where they will open and the
seeds can be squeezed out under the water. You can get them all out of crevices
with a pin. Lots of seeds – you wonder why Lithops seeds are so expensive or
so few in a packet! Remove empty pods and decant the water. The seeds will dry
and can be sown straight away or put in a packet. They remain viable for many
years. Don’t sow seeds you get like this too thickly, (but I always do).
So that’s Lithops
Our Tina was asking after a supplier of seeds or plants of Dudleya pachyphytum, a choice, ‘chunky’ species from Baja California, Mexico. I couldn’t help her but I had two plants of the species and they were both in flower. Perhaps I could introduce them to each other and get some seeds. The set-up of Lithops flowers make pollination easy; these were different, but I could see stigmas and anthers and I tried transferring pollen with a thin artist’s brush, (blow the expense). I also left them on the patio table while I was away for several weeks with flowers on different plants touching, maybe the bees might help. Come October I was looking at dry flower remains, were they seed pods? Breaking them up produced a speckling like salt and pepper with dusty chaff of flower remains. Had I any seeds from this mixture?
Was my attempt to produce and collect Dudleya pachyphytum seeds a success? One packet was sown directly (October 2015) others given away at a branch meeting with a request to report back. Do dust-like seeds have a long viability? (My guess is no, but I am prepared to be surprised.) We may well have millions of a choice species, or a few, or none; time will tell.
to the Apocynaceae…
While hiking in the Blyde River Canyon area of Mpumalanga, South Africa I
came on a thorny shrub, (right). I would not
have thought too much to it but there were the seed horns characteristic
of the family and Pachypodium
in particular. The fruits found their way home where they ripened in the
greenhouse and eventually split to reveal the seeds, each with attached
parachute, (far right). I spent some time
looking through images and a Google search produced similar plants in this
region. Of course without a flower I cannot be certain but I am fairly
sure this was Pachypodium
These seeds also found their way to good homes.
So, three plant families and the start of more seedlings for our collections.
I scrounged some cuttings of a Sedum-like plant growing in a friend’s rockery but forgot to scrounge the name. Even if he knew it. Naturally being a Sedum-like plant they rooted easily and I set about the task of identifying it. I thought I knew it wasn’t a Sedum so first tried Rosularia as a Google image search. Bingo! My plant was Rosularia sedoides. Little rosettes, like Sedum acre, but spreading by stolons. The flowers of course very different but mine had none yet. To make sure I looked the plant up in Eggli’s Rosularia book and it agreed. The internet suggested it had a name as a Sempervivella and I thought I would settle the argument with the Crassulaceae volume of the IHSP, (Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants). First the Rosularia then the Sempervivella. Nothing. There is a section at the back where names in common usage can be referred to the current ‘correct’ names, (according to the IHSP). Apparently this plant is now a Sedum! At least in the IHSP.
/ Sempervivella or Sedum sedoides
The strange thing is that Ray Stephenson’s book
on Sedum lists many plants which are only vaguely Sedums but Sedum
is not there. Exhibiters and Judges will see a pitfall here as Sedum is in a different Subgroup from Rosularia
Probably irrelevant as I can’t see ‘What-ever-you-call-it’ sedoides
as being any sort of winning show plant. Quite interesting on the rockery
While sorting through these names I noticed that
I had a different Sedum
Whoops; this was of course, Sedum
I wrote a new label. In this case ‘like a
Sedum’ is very different from ‘formed like a Sedum’.
Searching the internet again, (Rosularia,
Sempervivella, Sedum, sedoides), showed the internet favoured Rosularia as well.
Also I could buy a plant from Ebay for a pound from Czechoslovakia, though it
did not look like my Rosularia
A year ago I bought an interesting small plant with the name Echeveria schniedeckiana. It had a rosette form in mottled, very pale green. I had never heard of it and it is unlikely you will know it because on my return, Google had never heard of it either. Worse, it did not suggest any more likely spellings for the species.
the plant sat on the staging growing well but I was even having doubts
about whether it was actually an Echeveria, many Senecios look similar. I
am sure that flowering would settle that quickly but last week I solved
While searching for images on my computer for a talk about Wisley I found I had taken a picture of the same plant in 2008 growing in their glasshouse. As is my habit I had also taken a snap of the label and another Google search confirmed that my plant was actually X Pachyveria scheideckeri ‘Albocarinata’
Right: X Pachyveria scheideckeri ‘Albocarinata’
variegated rosettes on my plant would seem to be the desired form but my plant
grew more robust normal green shoots. A curious plant with some historical
for the National
you are aware the National Show inson 20th August next year. (You did know that,
didn’t you?) The date should be in your diary as should be the date of last
entries. I missed this in 2008 to my great annoyance, I am sure I would have
gained a few cards. (Well maybe not, the standard was pretty good.)
really great exhibitors will have been preparing for years, seeds and seedlings
nurtured for decades. Deep pocket (or very lucky) growers will have acquired old
plants to shortcut the route to success. All growers will be pimping their
exhibits in the final year. A clean, or perhaps a fancy flower pot, but keep it
tasteful. A top-dressing to compliment the plant and of course a legible label.
The name need not agree with the latest treatise on the genus but it should be
correctly spelt. I presently use labels printed both sides to facilitate
reading. I notice that some really
successful growers have really expensive engraved labels but I would sooner
spend money on plants.
the run-up to the show you need to select your entries, you may have a choice so
choose mature plants which are in good condition. Rarity counts for nothing
these days. (At least for the purposes of judging, but it is interesting for the
spectators to see novelties.) Make sure your exhibit conforms to the schedule,
the right size, the right kind and the right number. I am sure the stewards vet
the exhibits but they are busy and a NAS (Not According to Schedule) is really
embarrassing in the National. (And I remember that Euphorbia
in the Nine Cacti class some years ago.)
your entry in plenty of time and stage your entries, you can go on Friday
evening as well as Saturday morning. Exhibitors enter the show free.
you are not an exhibitor you have to pay to see some wonderful plants. I have to
say that many go mainly for the choice of sales plants which is huge. There are
apparently 125 sales vendors, half from abroad. Not me of course, my greenhouses
are full. Well… maybe just a small one or two.
good growing in 2016.
National Show 20th August 2016
Sales from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Show opens from: 11:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Wood Green Animal Shelter, London Road, Godmanchester PE29 2NH
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