From the Digest

Plant Info

The Thin Green Line

By Joe Merkelbach – Eric Driskill’s informative presentation on grafting caused me to research a bit into cactus cambium and the special properties that facilitate relatively easy combinations of cacti and succulents. Cambium layers are areas of meristematic cells that allow the growth of various types of differentiated …

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Aerial Roots – Mixed Connections

By Joe Merkelbach – Cacti and succulents seem to belong in the desert because of their ability to conserve water, but this trait is beneficial in more than dry environments. The cacti that live in jungle environments as epiphytes use the ability to conserve moisture to thrive in dry microhabitats. Tree limbs or cliff faces …

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Live Long and Prosper

By Joe Merkelbach – One of the interesting things about stem succulents – whether they are cacti, euphorbias or others – is that they conduct photosynthesis with cells on the bodies of the plants. Since there are no leaves to be shed and replaced, and the chloroplasts have to have unimpeded exposure to light …

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Tube or Not Tube

By Joe Merkelbach – Continuing with the idea that cacti and other succulents have their converging similarities, as well as marked differences, the flowers certainly indicate that not all the forms are closely related. Cactus flowers are always tubular in form, although they vary from deep to quite shallow and open. …

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Sticky Solutions

By Joe Merkelbach – Our group has a fascination with plants that have many unusual traits. I am working on a program about how convergent evolution has shaped the many similarities they share. Shapes, thorniness and limited leaves are all examples, but the fluids of cacti and succulents are a major difference. Euphorbias, …

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Converging Toward a Point

By Joe Merkelbach – One of the fascinating features of cacti and succulents is their tendency to have striking and dramatic forms and shapes. Instead of luxuriant, leafy growth typical of most plants, they exhibit parsimony in growth habits with few or no leaves and simple blocky shapes. Their architectural forms are a …

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What Makes a Cactus?

By Joe Merkelbach – Those of us who collect, grow and enjoy cacti know one when we see one and can often give the genus and species. But what is the trait that places a plant inside or outside the order Cactales and its single family, Cactaceae. This is actually a question that is more obscure than we might think. Is it …

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Button Gardens

By Susan Carpentier – One afternoon I went to Pat Thomann’s house to pick up library books and found the 1952 book Button Gardens and Diminutive Arrangements, by Florence Casebolt. It was owned by Dorothy Weitz, and there is a sticker with the author’s name and address on the inside front cover. Maybe Dorothy …

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