August meeting: Opening Notes

Kings Heath Gardener’s weekend is cancelled and has been replaced by a new show in the City Centre in conjunction with Artsfest. There will be three marquees in the City Centre Gardens (behind the library) and we will have a display in the Artsfest marquee. Volunteers to help out are needed.

This coming Sunday (21st) there will be a road trip to Abbey Brook. You will need to arrange your own transportation but some ride sharing may be available. Contact one of the executive if you need details. The plan is to arrive at 1pm.

The ELK trip to Belgium is being arranged. Stuart has details.

August Meeting: Plant of the Month

For this month’s plant of the month Mark priveleged us with a a twofer.
BCSS BB August - Ariocarpus talk - Mark and his Leuchtenbergia principis

First up was a Leuchtenbergia principis.

BCSS BB August - Ariocarpus talk: BCSS BB August - Ariocarpus talk - Mark about to eat his pot of Haworthia venosa ssp. tessellata

and that was followed by a full pot of Haworthia venosa ssp tessellata

Autumn Show Schedule

Adromischus @Birmingham Branch Cactus Show

Word Document: Autumn Show Schedule

for a printed version please email you address to the Show Secretary: Gill Mills

Show Entries due by Thursday, 6th October.

Next meeting 16th August: Ariocarpus with Costas Papathanasiou

As a preview here are some of the Ariocarpus in the collection at Winterbourne


Ariocarpus furfuraceus



Ariocarpus Trigonus



Ariocarpus Retusus

Winterbourne in Bloom

Some of the Collection in action:


Winterbourne - Parodia

Winterbourne - Mammilaria






July Meeting – Plant of the Month

Birmingham Branch BCSS - Favourite Plant

I’m a bit short on details for this one. If someone else could flesh things out a bit in the comments?

From Stuart:  “It’s Ann with her fantastically large Kedrostis africana. It used to be kept in a hanging basket until Claire persuaded her that it could cause serious damage to the head of whoever it fell on…”


July Meeting – Show Bench

Birmingham and District BCSS July Competition

Birmingham and District BCSS July Competition

Winterbourne House on the Birmingham Conservation Trust website

The Birmingham Conservation Trust has a write up about Winterbourne House , the other half of our branch’s home base, on their site with a 100 year old article from Country life.

Birmingham Branch July Meeting: Dr. Tony Roberts – Gasterias In The Flesh

Dr. Tony Roberts's Gasterias In The Flesh

At this month’s meeting we had Dr. Tony Roberts give his excellent Gasterias in the Flesh talk/show. I took some notes so I’ll summarize his talk for those who couldn’t attend (any errors or inaccuracies most likely originate from me).

Gasteria is from the Greek for stomach and refers to the resemblance of the flower to the stomach organ. They were the first, or one of the first, succulents imported into Europe, arriving in the 1600s before they were even known as Gasteria (they were considered Aloes originally).

Dr. Tony Roberts's Gasterias In The Flesh

Gasterias have had a bit of roller coaster ride in species/variety classifications with an early gradual rise to about 103 combined and then a sharp fall to 22 with some regrouping and then another rise due to new discoveries to 34 as the present day count. This was presented with copies of original documents (some in Latin and if that wasn’t überwältigend enough some were in German & Latin).

Hybrids and Cultivars - Dr. Tony Roberts's Gasterias In The Flesh

The 34 species/varieties are split into 2 sections of 2 series each.

Section Gasteria made up of Series Gasteria and Series Namaquana

The section Gasteria is distinguished by obtuse leaf ends and fat flowers

Section Longiflorae made up of Series Longifloliae and Series Multifariae

The section Longiflorae is distinguished by pointed leaf ends and long flowers (hence the name)

Sale Plants - Dr. Tony Roberts's Gasterias In The Flesh

Descriptive Terms

Distichous – alternating 180 degree leaf growth arranged vertically in two rows on opposite sides.
Spirals – some types that start out as distichious will start to spiral when older.

There are also solitary and clumping Gasteria (some even glom!).

G. Armstrongii & others - Dr. Tony Roberts's Gasterias In The Flesh



Gasterias can be thoroughly watered during their growing season and hosepipe watering does them no harm as long as care is taken to avoid drops of water remaining on the plants which can then magnify the sunlight and lead to scorch spots.

Potting mix

2/3 John Innes (II?) + 1/3 grit and then a layer of grit on top.


Gasteria are shade growing plants. In habit they grow on cliff sides, in tall grass, beneath other plants and, in one case, in forests, so too much direct sun can lead to scorching. With bright sun the leaves can turn red and sometimes not be able to revert back to green.

Caution is also advised on the first watering of the growing season as the plants can be overly eager to soak up the water and this can lead to splitting of the top leaves as they over expand. This splitting results in a permanent brown scar on the leaves.




Leaf Cuttings

Most Gasteria can be propagated by leaf cuttings. Just cut sections of leaves and leave them to dry on top of some potting mix and then when they start to show roots you can half bury them upright and they should produce offsets all around the cutting. Once the offsets are large enough you can split them off and leave the leaf cutting to produce more offsets.

Unlike other succulents most Gasterias have no stems so you don’t need to be sure and get some stem on your leaf cutting in order to ensure you have the growth point. This also means that one leaf can potentially be turned into several cuttings.

Dr. Tony Roberts's Gasterias In The Flesh

Dr. Tony Roberts's Gasterias In The Flesh

Dr. Tony Roberts's Gasterias In The Flesh

Dr. Tony Roberts's Gasterias In The Flesh

Dr. Tony Roberts's Gasterias In The Flesh

Dr. Tony Roberts's Gasterias In The Flesh

Dr. Tony Roberts's Gasterias In The Flesh

Open Day Pictures

These are pictures I took of the Birmingham and District Branch Open Day on Saturday July 16th 2011 Sunday July 17th 2011.