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

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