February 2, 2017 | Doors open at 6:30 p.m. | Meeting starts at 7:00 p.m.
South Africa, Namaqualand, Land of the Halfmens
Presented by Wendell S. Woody Minnich
South Africa is considered by many to be the richest region in the world for flowering plants. Within South Africa’s many environments, there is no more enchanted and succulent rich
area than that of the Richtersveld. From the coastal fog fed regions to the higher mountains, one can find an amazing diversity of geophytic, miniature and giant species. The areas
we will be exploring are from the south near Springbok up to the Richtersveld and the Orange River, and then slightly north into the deserts of Namibia, Namaqualand.
This northern portion of South Africa is also sometimes referred to as the Namaqualand. The original peoples from this general landscape were referred as the Nama. Their homeland environments were quite variable ranging from the very arid inland hills and mountains to the cooler foggy coastal sand dunes. The Nama were a rather nomadic people and thus lived in almost all of these different geologic settings. Rumors have it that the Nama people, when at war with neighboring tribes, would dress the Pachypodium namaquanum’s with hats and robes thus making it appear as if their armies were of greater number. These dressed up plants were referred to as the Halfmens. From a distance, Pachypodium namaquanum is often sparsely branched, thus it can undoubtedly resemble a human figure.
From the south, in the region of Springbok, the succulents are very numerous. These areas are generally of granitic substrate. This granite often takes the form of giant domed inselbergs and is then transformed into scenic sandy valleys and washes. In this region, the Aloes are not as common as some of the Mesembs and Crassulas, but when you do find them, they are very handsome. Aloe melanocantha is often found on mountain tops where it can become deep burgundy red with beautiful black marginal teeth. The spiny Aloe erinacea is also found on the mountain tops where it occasionally forms giant six foot in diameter clusters. The other succulents range from the many species of Pelargoniums, Crassulas, Othonnas, Conophytums, Tylecodons, Avonias, Euphorbias, Lithops and other shrubby Mesembs. Also, bulbs can surely keep one occupied while looking for our prized succulents.
Into the north, the environments become more and more arid. It is here in the Richtersveld that one begins to find many of our most prized succulents, from the statuesque Aloe pillansii to the highly sought Aloe pearsonii. Here, the Monsonias (Sarcocaulons) and the Tylecodons have evolved into some of their most exotic forms. Monsonia paniculina and multifida take center stage and the bonsai forms of Tylecodon pearsonii run a close second. The other Aloes, Conophytums, Crassulas, Larryleachias and Lithops are just a few of the well represented genera to be found in this magical territory.
Come travel with me to the Richtersveld to see its numerous plants and animals as well as its endless beautiful vistas. From the lizards to the Baboons, there is never a dull moment and the iconic Aloe pillansii and dichotoma will leave you with an everlasting memory of this most fascinating landscape.
Woody, as he is commonly called, has been in the cactus hobby for some 45 years and has become well known for his participation in many of the cactus and succulent clubs. He is an honorary life member of nine clubs as well as a life member and Friend of the CSSA (Cactus & Succulent Society of America.) He has served in almost all positions of leadership from president, to newsletter editor, to show chairman and so on. He is also known for his extensive field work studying primarily the cactus family. He has traveled throughout Africa, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Madagascar, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, Peru, Socotra, the United States and Yemen. From these trips and his nursery experience, he has developed an extensive knowledge of the cactus family as well as many of the other succulent genera.
He is also known for his cactus and succulent nursery, Cactus Data Plants. CDP was started in 1975 and is still in operation today. Cactus Data Plants specializes in show specimens and rare cacti and other succulents with particular emphasis in Ariocarpus, Astrophytum, Mammillaria, Gymnocalycium, Turbinicarpus, Melocactus, Copiapoa, Fouquieria, Pachypodium, Euphorbia, Cyphostemma, Adenium and Adenia.
His nursery, Cactus Data Plants. CDP was started in 1975 and is still in operation today. Woody and his wife Kathy live in the beautiful mountains south of Santa Fe New Mexico, in a region called Cedar Grove.
Let’s give Woody a warm welcome back!
Woody will be bringing plants for purchase.
Dinner: BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, 715 East Shaw Avenue, Fresno, (559) 570-1900, menu. For reservations, contact Rosanna by Wednesday, February 2n to make reservations at 559.999.0017 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Dinner begins promptly at 5:00 p.m. Reservations under Fresno Cactus Club. Members are invited to attend.