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CACTUS AND SUCCULENTS—DESERT IMAGES

Wayne Handlos

     

Pelargonium tetragonum                 Red flowered fishhook cactus                         Cristate cactus

 

Several of us visited the Desert Images Cactus and Succulent Nursery in Ojai in

July. What a fantastic place! Have you ever seen so many cactus and succulents?

And they even had some species of Pelargonium.

The cactus family specifically includes only those plants which botanically belong in

the family Cactaceae. These are plants whose flowers have many petals and numerous

stamens. We usually think we know what a cactus plant looks like but, in fact,

not all of them are barrel-shaped, covered with spines and live in the desert. The

nursery has representatives of all types of cactus, including the spineless epiphytic

one that are usually found in the “jungle”. Many of their plants were in flower and

the color range is extensive. They range from the brightest red/scarlet, to white, to

subtle pinks and lavenders, to yellow and gold. No blues. Probably the most unusual

was the columnar type with flowers adapted to pollination by hummingbirds.

But then they also had many cristate forms which look like thorny, floppy pillows.

The rows of golden barrel cactus made an impressive sight.

The succulent category of plants includes anything with a water storing stem, leaves

or roots. Many different flowering plant families are represented here. These included

the unusual Madagascar family Didieriaceae, the grape family (imagine

grape leaves on a fat papery stem), the composite family (imagine thistle flowers on

a snake like stem), the fig family (Dorstenia, imagine an unrolled fig fruit), the

gourd/squash family with tiny pumpkins on a woody base, Among the most noteworthy

was the spiny Pachypodium (like a spiny oleander on steroids) with seed

pods the size of bananas.

The nursery is a tribute to constant care and was neat and tidy. The owners were

there to answer questions. Do I need to say the prices were very reasonable? This is

a nursery not to be missed.