Main activities of the Society

1 - Meetings are held every first Sunday of the month at 9.45 a.m. at the Hall of the Capuchin monks, F.S Fenech street, Floriana. Near the Polyclinic.

2 - A lending library of books dealing with the hobby is at the disposal of society's members during monthly meeting.

3 - An annual exhibition is organized at the end of October.

4 - Every other year the society hosts a foreign speaker to present the members with two lectures.

5 - Seeds are collected yearly from members which are then sold to those who would like to raise cacti or other succulents from seeds.

6 - A journal is printed yearly, which is given free to all members.

7 - A monthly Newsletter is sent to all members.

Anyone (especially those from the Maltese society) can send pictures of cacti and the other succulents or submit any article/s for this site. Please send any pictures or articles to The society will post all pictures and writings, as long as they are of no offensive nature.

René Zahra


Planned activities

Sunday 5th January, The Cactus Of Mexico, My fifth visit (12th lecture)
Venue: Cappuchin monks Hall Floriana, Near Floriana Polyclinic.
Speaker: Amante Darmanin
Time 9.45

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The cactus and succulent society show (3)

The annual cactus and succulent society show (2)

The annual Cactus and Succulent Show

The annual Maltese cactus and succulent show was a huge success. Twelve members participated in the show which hosted several different cacti and succulents from several Genera. The pictures speak for themselves. Well done!

The cactus show lasted for three days. On Friday 24th October the show was open to members only while on the next two days it was open to the general public.

Monday, July 20, 2009


The Genus Notocactus is found in Southern Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina.

Notocactus leninghausii
(top picture). This cactus used to be included in the genus Eriocactus which contained short-columnar cacti with yellow stigma. Now, Eriocactus is a sub-genus of Notocactus and Notocactus itself is being merged with the Genus Parodia which precedes Notocactus. This arrangment is not getting down well with students of this genus. To begin with seeds of Parodia are much smaller than those of Notocactus. N. leninghausii was discovered by Frederico Guilermo Leninghaus, a Brazilian collector.

Notocactus graessneri (Second picture) used to be called Brasilicactus graessneri. Plants of this genus have small flowers and contained two species. Discovered by Robert Graessner and is named for him. N. graessneri is now placed as a subspecies of N. haselbergii. Thus, the name now reads as N. haselbergii ssp. graessneri, unless of course one accepts Parodia as the genus. Confusing isn't it?
N. graessneri, like N. leninghausii has a tendency for the upper stem to lean to one side.

Named for Hugo Selmer Schlosser, Notocactus schlosseri (third picture) is a charming plant and can be expected to flower after three years from seed. N. schlosseri hails from Uruguay. Plants have red spines and can be expected to grow to 20 cm in height.

Notocactus buiningii can be easily distinguished from other Notocacti by its sharp bluish-grey ribs. It remains solitary and is known to have shallow roots.

Pictures supplied by Jason Fenech. Information supplied by Amante Darmanin

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mammillaria seed pods

Mammillaria seed pods vary from species to species. They can embellish an already beautiful cactus as shown clearly in these pictures.

The top pictures shows the seed pods of Mammillaria/Mammilloydia candida.

The next pictures shows that of M. pennispinosa. The seeds of this species are very distinctive. they have a large corky attachment called the strophiole. It is said that this allows ants in carrying it easily and hence aids in germination. Just visible in the same picture are the fruits of M. mathildae and M. jaliscana.

The third picture shows the fruit of M. plumosa (bottom), M. bocasana (middle) and M. bocasana ssp.eschausieri.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hoya carnosa

The wax plant or Hoya carnosa is named for Thomas Hoym which was the gardener to the Duke of Northumberland at the end of the 18th century.

The Genus Hoya is found throughout Eastern Asia and Australia and there are more than a hundred species. Hoya is closely allied to the Genus Stapelia and Ceropegia.

This particular species prefers slightly acidic soil. Propagation is either from seed, air layering, stem or leaf cuttings.

Propagation by stem cutting is the easiest. The stem cutting should be dipped in rooting powder and placed in compost, after removing the lower leaves and left in a humid place.

Leaf cuttings should contain part of the petiole for best results.

Maltese soil is not well tolerated with this plant yet it seems to thrive well in our gardens. A spoonful of vinegar added to about 10 liters of water can help reduce some of the alkalinity of the soil and produce more shiny leaves.

Picture taken by Jason Fenech.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Maltese wild succulents: Stonecrops.

There are several Sedum species in the Maltese islands. Here are three of them. They can be found growing together at Dingli cliffs:

Sedum album. This is the rarest of the three species and can be seen just near the edge of Dingli cliffs. It has never been seen to flower in Malta and may be propagating by accidental detachment of leaves by animals or rain. In this picture it is growing with Sedum sediforme. Sedum album is perennial (retains the leaves throughout the year)

Sedum sediforme (Mediterranean stonecrop) is frequent. It can often be found in arid rocky places. The leaves can either be bluish-grey or redish-bronze, which according to literature, depends on the amount of sunlight reaching the plants, but cuttings taken from different plants has retained the leaf colour in cultivation. This may indicate that there are two local forms. Sedum sediforme is perennial. This picture was taken at Ta Cenc, Gozo.

It can be found throughout the Mediterranean region extending to Portugal, North Spain and central France.

Sedum caeruleum (Maltese-Bezzul il-baqra)--blue stonecrop. This is an annual species and dies out in summer after flowering in spring. It is often found in dried up shallow rocky holes in spring which may flood in winter.

It has an unmistakable reddish tinge to its fleshy leaves and is the most noticeable of the three. The flowers has seven light-violet petals

These two pictures were taken at Ta Cenc, Gozo.

Pictures and information submitted by Amante Darmanin

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Just flowered

Mammillaria guelzowiana has the largest flowers in the genus Mammillaria. It is one of the soft-bodied Mamms and therefore needs to be left very dry before watering again.

Because of its hooked spines it needs to be placed where it does not get attached to clothing. The tubercles can get very easily damaged and may lead to rot. It has numerous radial spines reportedly from 60 to 80.

It comes from Rio Nazas valley in the
state of Durango, Mexico.

The top picture shows M. guelzowiana before the flowers opened.

Middle picture shows several plants in flower. Flowers are very showy with deeper throat and they completely hide the plants .

Bottom picture shows a close up of the flowers. Some are so dense that they had to overlap.

Pictures taken by Amante Darmanin

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mammillaria luethyi

This fascinating cactus has an interesting history behind it.

The story goes back to April 1952 when Dr. Norman Hill Boke, (1913-1996) a Scholar and Author on anatomical features in the Cactaceae, was on his way from Mexico to the USA. He happened to stop at the Crosby Hotel in Ciudad Acuna, a town at the border on the Mexican side in the state of Coahuila.

He was surprised to find a miniature cactus growing in a 1lb Coffee can. Inquiring about the cactus he learned that some plants were given to the lady operator of the hotel by a mining prospector in Coahuila. It is unfortunate that we do not know who this sharp-eyed mining prospector was. Boke took some pictures of the plants and sent them to Ladislaus Cutak at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, USA.

Intrigued by the pictures, Cutak corresponded with the lady operator of the Crosby Hotel. He managed to acquire two specimens of this mysterious cactus, but they were not in good condition. Both plants eventually died. The plant remained a mystery. That is until May 1996.

Meanwhile Cutak published a description of the plant and described it as one of the tiniest and daintiest cacti in existence. He could not place it in any known Genus.

In 1959, Backberg was the first to publish the pictures and to surmise that it could not be placed in the Genus Turbinicarpus because the flowers emerged from the side of the stem and not from the top. He provisionally listed the plant under Neogomesia.

Buxboum and Kladiwa in 1969 described a new Genus Normanbokea. Buxboum was of the idea that the mysterious plant belonged to this Genus.

Other Authors contributed their views.

In May 1996, two known Cactophyles Jonas M. Luthy and George S. Hinton, studied the maps of Coahuila, deduced possible locations where it could be and rediscovered the cactus. The plant was named Mammillaria luethyi for one of the discoverers. The plants grow on horizontal limestone slabs.

In cultivation the plants are usually grafted to speed up their growth but plants can also be grown on their own roots.

The top three pictures were photographed under a light microscope where several pictures were taken and combined by a computer process known as photo stacking to increase the depth of field. The pictures show the individual minute spines which branches to much smaller spines in the form of a parasol which is unique in the Cactaceae. It is arguable the prettiest Mammillaria.

All photos taken by Amante Darmanin

Monday, April 20, 2009

A touch of colour

Top picture: This cactus bears the name of Parodia cafayatensis but is clearly a form of Parodia microsperma. The name microsperma denotes small seeds. Seed size compares with Blossfeldia or Aztekium.

Distibution: From Argentina; Caramarca, Santiago del Estero, Salta, Tucuman.

Bottom picture: Mammillaria herrerae comes from the Mexican State of Queretaro, from near Cadereyta and Vista Hermosa.

It is not an easy plant to grow as Mammillaria goes. Such plants are often found grafted in cultivation. In Malta it is more easier than continental Europe due to warmer climate.

Pictures submitted by Amante Darmanin

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April flowers continued

Top picture: Neoporteria senilis ssp. coimasensis. This subspecies comes from Valparaiso, Chile. The Genus Neoporteria has been dumped in the Genus Eriosyce, a Genus that previously contained about four species.

Bottom picture: Mila caespitosa comes from near Santa Clara, Lima, Peru. In fact the Genus name Mila is an Anagram of Lima. According to some authorities there is only one species that is very variable and hence more widespread than the type locality mentioned above, while others recognise four species.

It is quite small and branches from the base resembling the North Americaan Echinocereus in growth habit.

Both pictures supplied by Amante Darmanin

Monday, April 13, 2009

April flowers continued

Top picture:
Turbinicarpus pseudomacrochele
has flowers that range from white to nearly magenta. It is a very small species as are all Turbinicarpus sensu stricto. It is not difficult to grow in cultivation. In habitat it has been recorded from near Bernal, Queretaro, near Cadereyta also in Queretaro and between Ixmiquilpan and Pachuca in the state of Hidalgo.

Bottom picture: Mammillaria candida is very widespread in its habitat, in the central Mexican platau (from San Luis Potosi, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas). Yet, plants are rarely found in large numbers in each individual locality.

They differ from completly white spined plants to pink tipped spines to pink spine rings alternate with white. Some can be found solitary while others have a clumping habit.

Seeds are smooth (finely caniculate) which are different from other Mammillaria species. At one time there was attempts to place this plant in a Genus of its own, Mammilloydia, but recent trends are in favour of keeping it under Mammillaria. Easy to grow in cultivation.

Both pictures submitted by Amante Darmanin

Friday, April 10, 2009

April flowers

Top: Echinocereus pulchellus v. sharpii is one of the few Echinocereus having white flowers or very pale pink as is in this picture. It remains small both in habitat and cultivation.

It is very rare in habitat. Mexico, Nuevo Leon, Near San Roberto.

Bottom: The locality of Mammillaria sheinvariana has been destroyed by the building of a dam. In cultivation it offsets profusely producing a sizable clump in a few years. Mexico, Queretaro, Mesa de Leon.

Pictures submitted by Amante Darmanin

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mammillaria humboldtii

This gem of a cactus is found in the Mexican State of Hidalgo. There are several forms in cultivation. The one shown here has an unkempt appearance to its spines while others are more neat. It is not very difficult to cultivate in Malta, as long as it is kept in a sheltered place and watered sparsely in the growing season only.

Picture supplied by Amante Darmanin

A few flowers

Top picture shows Turbinicarpus alonsoi. It caused a furor in the cactus world,when it was discovered in 1996 by Glass and Arias, because of its striking flowers and its resemblance to an Ariocarpus.

T. alonsoi contains several alkaloids , among them pellotine which causes convulsions.

Bottom picture shows Gymnocactus subteraneus v. zaragosae. In its native habitat this species grows among tall grass. Through evolution it has grown a tall neck to enable it to compete for sunlight.

Pictures submitted my Amante Darmanin