CLUB MEETING DATES – 2019
Meetings are held at the Park Ave. Community Center in Escondido unless noted.
30 Years in the Atacama Desert – Land of the Copiopoa
By Woody Minnich
Similar to the coast of Namibia, the coastal and inland regions of northern Chile, known as the Atacama, is mainly watered by amazing fogs, “the Camanchacas.” These fog-fed regions, in two of the driest deserts in the world, have some of the most interesting cactus and succulents to be found anywhere. The Atacama of northern Chile has an endemic genus considered by many to be one of the most dramatic to have ever evolved, the Copiapoa. This ancient genus is also believed to be tens of thousands of years old, and there are those who feel it might well be on its way out! The ocean currents that affect the coastal Atacama have changed considerably over the last hundreds of years, and now its only source of moisture is primarily from consistent dense fogs. Some of these areas rarely, if ever, get rain and the plants that have evolved there live almost entirely off the heavy condensation from the Camanchaca.
There are many different Copiapoa species ranging from small quarter sized subterranean geophytes to giant 1,000-year-old, 300-head mounding clusters. Thanks to Rudolf Schulz’s excellent field work and his two comprehensive Copiapoa books, we have all been introduced to these amazing plants. Having worked with Rudolf in Chile, I can honestly say that the genus Copiapoa is without comparison! Now, having visited Chile numerous times over the last 20+ years, I have become familiar with most all of the representatives of this genus. With this presentation, I hope to taxonomically introduce you to most of the Copiapoa species as well as show their relationships and synonyms. Along with the Copiapoa, we will also encounter many other genera including the Neochilenias, Neoporterias, Eriosyce, Eulychnias, Trichocereus, as well as many of the other Chilean succulents. Chile also offers some of the best lunar landscapes, geologic formations, and spectacular beaches to be found in all of South America.
This last August 2018, I had the pleasure of leading a group of 20 crazy cactophiles in seven four-wheel drive trucks. Our objectives were to see most of the fantastic plants and spectacular scenery that are to be found in this the land of the Camanchaca. Most of our group were very young adults (25-35yrs), and they all wanted to see and know how us old timers (Rudolf, Woody, Ritter and Charles) used to do our explorations to the wild and seldom seen places of Chile. Not only did we take them on very bad roads, the kind of dusty, dirty two tracks we used to have to maneuver, we also had them camp out in the middle of nowhere with the scorpions. No restaurants, no showers, no beds, and no bar! These camp-outs were exceptional as we could often see, without light pollution, the Southern Cross and the Magellanic Lights until the Camanchaca fog slowly blanketed our campfire discussions. What an incredible trip it was! The energy of the young people and my memories of the last 20+ years in Chile made this an epic adventure, one I will never forget! Join me at the meeting, and hopefully you’ll share our exhilarating experience and the overall magic of this wonderful arid region, the Atacama.
MONTHLY MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
Meetings are the fourth Saturday of each month, with a few exceptions, at the Park Avenue Community Center in Escondido, 210 E Park Ave Escondido, CA 92025. Check the newsletter or website for the exact dates. The basic schedule is as follows, with times being flexible:
11:00 – 12:00pmSign in, check out the Brag, Exchange, Benefit Drawing, and Sales Tables. Meet up with friends
12:00 – 12:45pmMeeting starts – Announcements, Club Business, Brag Table Judging, Plant of the Month Presentation
12:45 – 1:10pmBREAK – Refreshments, chat with fellow members, enjoy all the plants
1:10 – 2:30pm Name Badge Raffle, Main Speaker
2:30 – 2:50pm Benefit Drawing followed by Exchange Table Drawing
2:50 – 3:15pm Clean-up
Check-in Welcome Table – Members and guests sign-in here, join or renew their membership, order nametags, sign-up to bring refreshments, and get Name Tag Drawing tickets. There are also handouts, flyers, etc.
Programs – Experts in the hobby present a variety of programs, usually with a PowerPoint or slide show. Some are club members, but more often they are by other well-known guest presenters, some from around the world.
Plant of the Month – A different cacti/succulent is featured and there is a short presentation with basic information provided. Members are encouraged to bring in their specimens of the featured plant to share and to enter them in the Brag Table competition if desired.
Brag Table – Bring in your favorite plants and show them off! This is a mini-competition with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners chosen in Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced divisions of both cactus and succulents. Members get a chance to see each other’s special plants, and this is also excellent practice for our big October Show held at San Diego Botanic Garden. The judge shares details about the plants as they are evaluated. Winners earn 3 points for first place, 2 points for second place, 1 point for third place, plus 1 point for each plant entered. The points go towards choosing from a selection of beautiful gift plants at the December Holiday Luncheon.
Exchange Table – Cactus and succulent enthusiasts love to share, and this is the place! Bring in cuttings and/or plants, used pottery and get a ticket to participate in the Exchange Table drawing. Tickets are randomly drawn and each person chooses what they want from the wide assortment available. After all tickets are called, you can help yourself to what is left over. This is an excellent way to share your surplus and to collect cuttings or plants that you’ve been searching to find.
Benefit Drawing – Each month members donate plants, pottery, and/or other garden related items to the Benefit Drawing. These items should be a bit nicer than those for the Exchange Table. The club also provides plants to enlarge the selection. Tickets are $1, or 6 for $5, with proceeds going to the club. This is the place to pick up some excellent plants for a bargain.
Sales Table – Members sell plants they have grown or collected, in addition to pots, rocks, and other merchandise of interest to succulent fanatics. See John Barkley, our Treasurer, for information if you are interested in selling.
Library – Our library has over 200 books, journals, etc. that members may check out. Many are not available at your local library. New books are purchased regularly, and we love suggestions.
Name Tag Prizes – To encourage members to sign in and wear their name tags so that everyone knows who you are, we have a Name tag Drawing. When you wear it to a meeting make sure to get a ticket, at the Membership Table, to enter in the drawing. After the break, 3 lucky members will have their ticket chosen for a plant prize. You can order a nametag at the Membership table for $6.
Refreshments – The club provides coffee and bottled water. Members take turns bringing in snacks for the break. Sign up and treat everyone to your specialty or something else tasty! If you are not able to bring something you may make a small monetary donation towards the cost.
Socialize – Spend some time with old friends and get to know other fellow club members who share this rewarding hobby. Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. The club is full of wonderful people with a wide range of interests! They love to answer questions, so don‘t be afraid to ask!