Contents Volume 26. No 3

Winter 2015

Editorial and more

Trevor Wray

Dasylirion wheeleri

Colin C. Walker

Update on Viscum minimum

LLoyd Gordon

A Hillside in Chihuahua, Mexico

Trevor Wray

All about my Greenhouse

Trevor Wray

Aloe longistyla

Trevor Wray

Echinocereus knippelianus var. kruegeri

Cover picture: 

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

You can see a better image 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 use.

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).

pricking out Lithops seedlings

Lithops lesliei ‘Vivid Green’

You have to wait until they flower to see the difference between this and ‘Albinica’. ‘Vivid Green’ has white flowers. Exciting. The image shows the parent plants, with yet more hand pollinated seed pods, and pricked out plants. Will I get better growth with 16 or 9 seedlings to a 3½ inch pot? The pink label is to remind me which plants I have hand pollinated.

Right: Thousands of 'Vivd Green' seeds being extracted under water

cleaning lithops seeds

So that’s Lithops seeds.

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?

Right:: I wasn’t sure I had in fact any seeds of Dudleya pachyphytum so sowed some of the dust and chaff from the dried flower remains in late October. A week later and success; they came up like cress. (I hope they aren’t cress!)

Each of these green blobs is about 2mm across. If you had some free seeds do not sow them so thickly!

Far right: A single rosette of Dudleya pachyphytum. Old plants will develop a stem and may cluster slightly.

new seedling Dudleya pachyphytum

Dudleya pachyphytum

Now I have collected seeds of Dudleyas in habitat before. The seeds are dust like, (and are wind distributed). Rather than try to extract them in the field I shoved the dry flower stems in a bag. On my return home I crushed the smaller pieces and sowed the lot, chaff as well. Germination was fantastic and despite only collecting from white leaved plants produced a full range from white to green. 

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.

On 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 saundersii. These seeds also found their way to good homes.

So, three plant families and the start of more seedlings for our collections.

Pachypodium saundersii in habitat at the Blyde River Canyon

Fruit and seeds of Pachypodium saundersii

Rosularia / Sempervivella or Sedum sedoides

Another Sedum

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.

Left: Rosularia / 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 sedoides is not there. Exhibiters and Judges will see a pitfall here as Sedum is in a different Subgroup from Rosularia and Sempervivella. 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 though.

While sorting through these names I noticed that I had a different Sedum sedoides. Whoops; this was of course, Sedum sediforme. 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 sedoides.


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.

So 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 the problem.

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’ 

X Pachyveria scheideckeri ‘Albocarinata’

Google supplied some more information. This was a hybrid allegedly by Peter Scheidecker (hence the name) but actually Louis de Smet in Munich, around 1870. The parents are Pachyphytum bracteosum and Echeveria secunda. There was some discussion in French as to the correct form of the name. Wisley had the common form X Pachyveria scheideckeri ‘Albocarinata’

The 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 interest.

Preparing for the National

As 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.)

The 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.

In 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 obesa in the Nine Cacti class some years ago.)

Post 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.

If 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.

Happy Christmas!

And good growing in 2016.



BCSS 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

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

recent back issues of the NMK Branch magazine

Northants News Volume 26.2
Northants News Volume 26.1

Northants News Volume 25.3

Northants News Volume 25.2