Hunting for Argyroderma in the quartz fields of South Africa
By Russell Wagner
Tuesday, July 15, 7:00 pm
Location: Auditorium in the San Francisco County Fair Building, 9th Ave and Lincoln Way, San Francisco MAP
Mesemb specialist and explorer Russell Wagner has visited the quartz fields of South Africa's Knersvlakte on each of his four visits to the world's succulent paradise. But his most recent trip, a brief two-week tour in late April and early May of this year, was dedicated to hunting down and photographing every species of Argyroderma, one of the famous living stones that calls this region home.
Argyroderma, literally silver skin, is a small genus of plants resembling Lithops, at least superficially. Unlike lithops, argys are never patterned, windowed, or flattopped. Instead, the leaves tend to be alabaster smooth, round-topped and keeled (meaning there's an angled protrusion across the back of the leaf), and with a typically gaping mouth. They can be single-headed or clumping and even form small shrubs. In the resting season the plants can become alarming wrinkled and soft, at which time they take on a range of ruddy hues. But when turgid, they are rock hard and may even split if overwatered.
Russell found populations that flowered in yellow, white, pink, and purple, and visited a few special spot where a range flower colors co-exist. By traveling at the time of peak flowering, he was able to gather some very special photos for Steven Hammer's next book in the Little Sphaeroid press "Mesembs" series.
Join us on Tuesday, July 15 for a presentation that will reveal not only one of the most coveted of mesemb groups, but also a range of other mesembs (Dicrocaulon, Monilaria, Lithops), succulent daisies (Othonna, Senecio), rare miniature bulbs (Gethyllis, Moraea) and a host of other strange surprises found only in the Knersvlakte quartz fields.
Russell Wagner has been a member of the San Francisco Succulent and Cactus Society since 1997 and served as editor of the Cactus and Succulent journal for seven years. He shares his greenhouse in West Oakland with Carl Frederick, and together they produce a wide variety of rare seed-grown succulents that thrive in our winter-rainfall climate. Russell is also the proprietor of Little Sphaeroid Press, a company established to produce fine books about succulent plants. Their first title in Steven Hammer's Mesembs series was released in 2013.
Our featured grower is Dean Kelch.
What to bring:
The show plants of the month are Agaves for succulents and Brazilian cactus (Uebelmannia, Discocactus, Pilosocereus, Schlumbergera, etc.) for cacti, plus anything else that looks good which you would like to share with the other members.
Please bring baked goodies, fruit, snack food or a beverage if your last name begins with the letters K to M, and any other members who can contribute this month.