Meeting Location: Desert Botanical Garden – Dorrance Hall

Meeting Time: 2:00 p.m

Presenter: Wendell S. (Woody) Minnich

Woody grew up in the Mojave Desert and was attracted to desert plants and animals since the early 1950’s. He has been involved with the cactus and succulent world for over 52 years, as a grower, field explorer, club and organization leader, writer, photographer, lecturer and presenter.
Having been a speaker all over the world, Woody is most often associated with giving presentations on his field work from the places he has traveled, such as: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Madagascar, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, Peru, Socotra, South Africa, the United States and Yemen. To date, this makes 128 major trips. He is also recognized for having operated the nursery Cactus Data Plants since 1975. Woody’s show quality plants were often considered one of the standards for staging and horticultural achievement. His favorite genera include: Adenium, Ariocarpus, Astrophytum, Copiapoa, Cyphostemma, Fouquieria, Gymnocalycium, Lithops, Mammillaria, Melocactus, Pachypodium, Turbinicarpus, Uebelmannia, and Pachycauls in general.

He has published numerous articles and reviews in various journals (CSSA) and his photography is featured in many books including; “The Copiapoa” by Schulz, “The
Mammillaria Handbook” by Pilbeam, “The Cactus Lexicon” By Hunt and Charles, as well as many others. As of November 2017, he is featured as the primary photographer in the sold out book “The Xerophile.” This book specializes in what the authors call, The Obsessed Field workers from around the world. He is also featured in electronic articles about conservation from “MNN Mother Nature Network” and “The Guardian Newspaper.”

Woody and his wife, Kathy, live in Cedar Grove, New Mexico. He is a retired secondary school teacher of 32 years where he taught Graphics, Art and Architecture.
In the cactus and succulent hobby, Woody is recognized for his high energy and creative spirit. As an educator, he has become an important part of the hobby and thus
is an honorary life member of thirteen C&S societies across the country. He has been president, show and sale chair, newsletter editor, program chair, and plant of the month coordinator. Woody has also served on the CSSA board and numerous societies in many other leadership positions. He is a co-creator, and currently the president, of the Santa Fe Cactus and Succulent Club. With 52 years in the hobby and 64 years in the field (old fart), he has many experiences to share and thousands of photos to show.

Presentation: Mexico, The Hidden Treasures of Coahuila
Mexico is thought by many to be the richest region in the world for cacti. For all those individuals who travel in search of rare and unusual cacti, their first choice is often Mexico. The Sierra Madre Oriental is considered the center of diversity for Mexican genera, ranging from Ariocarpus to Aztekiums, Echinocereus, Ferocactus, Geohintonia, Gymnocactus, Mammillaria, Obregonia, Pelecephora, Thelocactus, Turbinicarpus and many, many more. Because of the plethora of plants found in the states of Tamalipas, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi and Hidalgo, most field workers have just decided to ignore the little explored Coahuila.

For most of us, Coahuila and its neighboring state of Chihuahua were often only used as drive-throughs on our way to the succulent rich south. In recent years, many of the serious plant explorers have started finding new back country roads in these two states. These new roads have graciously opened up some of the rarely explored areas to extremely remote regions, and some of these back country roads (trails) are not even found on the maps! Coahuila, as close as it is to the USA, actually has some of the least explored and most remote regions in all of Mexico.

On our trip through Coahuila, we drove for many hours without ever seeing other vehicles or back country people. There were no urban or agricultural developments as these wild places are still virtually untouched! The valleys and mountains of these expanses will surely offer many new species for the field worker willing to do some serious exploring. Near the roads, if you wish to call them roads, I saw only a few dried-up old ghost towns where apparently some tough old Mexicans, probably from the Poncho Villa era, once resided.

From the unknown territories of Coahuila, there have been numerous new cacti and other succulents discovered and rediscovered. The crown jewel of these new plants is the fantastic Mammillaria luethyi. It was lost for over 60 years since its original siting, growing in a rusted tin can on a dusty ranchito porch. All of us exploring Mexico had searched for this very special Mammillaria, until only a few years ago, Luethy found it in northern Coahuila. The Sierra del Carmen, which abuts the Rio Grand and the Big Bend National Park, has also been the origin of other new species. Close to this area, we discovered a new, very beautiful Echinomastus, or possibly Gymnocactus? Also from this region we found a very handsome red Sedum, as well as Echinocereus longisetus, and the northern most of the Echeverias, Echeveria strictaflora. In a remote dry lake bed, Laguna la Leche, we admired the amazingly cryptic Escobaria abdita. Wow, just some of the treasures of Coahuila!

This trip was also to be an adventure in seeing some of the brand new Agaves, Echeverias, Astrophytums, Echinocereus and Mammillarias. We scored on almost everything we went to see, and never, in the 45 years that I have traveled Mexico, have I seen it so green. This talk will also feature many cacti and other succulents that have never been seen in books or presentations. Come explore Mexico with me!

From top to bottom:

  • Woody in the Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil with Notocactus uebelmannianus
  • Astrophytum coahuilensis in the Cerro Bola, Coahuila
  • Mammillaria luethyi in central Coahuila, east of Big Bend Texas.
  • Sedum robertsianun in central Coahuila, a very rare species
  • Fouquieria shreevii in the Cuatri Cienegas region of Coahuila, Mexico
  • Aztekium ritteri in the Rio Pelon near Reyones, Mexico