THURSDAY - MARCH 5, 2015 - 7:00 PM (DOORS OPEN AT 6:30 PM)
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center - 5340 N. Fresno Street, Fresno


Mesemb specialist and explorer Russell Wagner visited the quartz fields of South Africa's Knersvlakte on each of his four visits to the world's succulent paradise. One of his trips was dedicated to hunting down and photographing every species of Argyroderma, one of the famous living stones that calls this region home.

Argyroderma, literally silver skin, is a small genus of plants resembling Lithops, at least superficially. Unlike lithops, argys are never patterned, windowed, or flat-topped. Instead, the leaves tend to be alabaster smooth, round-topped and keeled (meaning there's an angled protrusion across the back of the leaf), and with a typically gaping mouth. Some are rather suggestively named (Argyroderma testiculare!), and at least one has finger-like leaves (A. fissum). They can be single-headed or clumping, and some even form small shrubs. In the resting season the plants can become alarming wrinkled and soft, at which time they take on a range of ruddy hues. But when turgid, they are rock hard and may split if overwatered - even in habitat.

Argys are extremely easy to grow from seed, producing their first leaf pair within about six weeks of sowing. They flower usually by year three. And what the plants lack in leaf variation, they make up for in flower color. Russell found populations that flowered in yellow, white, pink, and purple, and visited a few special spots where a range flower colors co-exist. By traveling at the time of peak flowering, he was able to gather some very special photos for Steven Hammer's book in the Little Sphaeroid Press Mesembs series.

Mesembs-TitanopsisRussell Wagner on Conophytum piusJoin us on the 5th of March for a presentation that will reveal not only one of the most coveted of mesemb groups, but also a range of other mesembs (Dicrocaulon, Monilaria, Lithops), succulent daisies (Othonna, Senecio), rare miniature bulbs (Gethyllis, Morea) and a host of other strange surprises found only in the Knersvlakte quartz fields.

Russell Wagner has been a member of the San Francisco Succulent and Cactus Society since 1997 and served as editor of the Cactus and Succulent journal for seven years. He has an 800 square foot greenhouse in Oakland where he cultivates a wide variety of rare seed grown succulents that thrive in our winter-rainfall climate. Russell is also the proprietor of Little Sphaeroid Press, a company established to produce fine books about succulent plants. Their first title in Steven Hammer's Mesembs series was released in 2013. (Note: The Titanopsis Group is in our club library.)

Russell is also this month's featured grower. He will bring a number of rare mesembs, small winter-rainfall bulbs, and other unusual plants not normally seen for sale. Russell is known for his depth of knowledge on succulent cultivation, so feel free to ask him just how he grows these special plants. On left, Russell is surrounded by Conophytum plum.

This is Russell's first visit to our club, so let's give him a warm welcome to our club!

Pre-meeting dinner with Russell at BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse,715 E. Shaw Avenue, Fresno, CA
Phone: 559.570.1900. Menu:
Reservations: Contact Rosanna Rojas by Wednesday, March 4, Phone 559.999.0017.
Email: Members are invited to attend. Dinner begins at 5:00 p.m.

March Events