There is no April Monthly Meeting because of the Show and Sale

The May Monthly Meeting is

Sunday, May 20 at 2:00 PM in Dorrance Hall

at the Desert Botanical Garden

Speaker:  Woody Minnich

Program: Plants of the Bolivian Highlands 

Bolivia, in the western regions of South America, is south of Peru and north of Argentina-Chile and west of Brazil. Being squeezed by past wars with its neighbors, Bolivia is now a small country with no direct connection to the Pacific Ocean. It is mostly made-up of high Andean mountain environments often divided by deep river gorge valleys. From sea level to altitudes in excess of 24,000 feet, it is well known for its Inca ancestry, high altitude terrace farming and the beautiful llamas, alpacas and vicunas. Due to it being mostly high in elevation, many of the cacti and other succulents are endemic to very specialized and uniquely created habitats.

When flying into La Paz, the capitol of Bolivia, one soon becomes aware of their first immediate adjustment. As soon as you step off of the airplane, you really feel the altitude of near 14,000 feet. Normally, a few days of acclimation are necessary, thus what better way to see this historically beautiful city, than to just meander verrry slooowly from street to street! The people and their culture are pronounced, and the colors and vibrancy of their life style is inspirational. One would think, at this mountainous altitude, the winter temperatures would get very cold and thus prohibit the growth of most succulent plants. Surprisingly, there are numerous cacti and other succulents found growing everywhere. And, if the altitude makes you feels ill, there are always vendors along the cobblestone streets anxious to sell their famed cocoa leaves. Just chew some, dribble the juice down your chin, and soon you’ll feel as if you’re back at sea level.

From La Paz into Bolivia’s more remote regions, one quickly begins to view fantastic scenery from snow covered peaks to deep valleys and sculptured geological formations. Soon the Puyas and columnar Cereus become the dominate vegetation. If curvy winding roads with sheer drop-offs are not to your liking, this may not be the best place for you. Pretty soon, many smaller cryptic genera become visible from the window of your Land Cruiser. You totally forget about the rough roads and immediately get excited by more and more species appearing with each and every bend in the road. Sulcorebutias, Rebutias and Weingartias are the most dominant genera, and when they are in flower, they seem to glow with their big electric red, yellow and burgundy flowers. The Echinopsis, Lobivias, Oreocereus and Cleistocactus are also very common and are often found growing in association with numerous Bromeliads and the occasional Echeveria.

Everyday in Bolivia is like riding a rollercoaster, from sea level to 20,000 feet, and from one species of cactus to another. In some areas, the cacti dominate the landscape, and in others, the cacti are as cryptic and camouflaged as chameleons. Hopefully sharing my travels in Bolivia from Lake Titicaca to Sucre, will be as exciting for you as it was for me. For those of you who may never make such a trip, perhaps this presentation can take you to Bolivia without ever leaving home.

We love cacti and succulents.   You will fit right in!

Learn about plants you have. Do they grow bigger and flower every year?  They should!

Tired of replacing succulents? Find out why!

Over a hundred of us attend meetings.  We socialize before and after. New friends to make!

Monthly Q&A sessions during meetings.

Learn about new and different plants, faraway and exotic places.

How-to demonstrations.

Silent Auction at every meeting. Free Plants at most meetings. Take home some new plants!

Want plants not sold at big box stores? We know where to find them!