Cactus and Succulent Society of America
2015 Biennial Convention
June 14-19, 2015

Pitzer College
Claremont, California

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2015 Convention Speakers

Michelle Cloud-Hughes

Presentation Title: Cylindropuntia chuckwallensis: A New Cholla Species from Riverside and Imperial Counties

Presentation Description: Cylindropuntia chuckwallensis is a newly-described cactus found in Riverside and northern Imperial Counties. This talk will focus on the characteristics that distinguish this intriguing and beautiful species, how to differentiate it from other common cholla species of the region, and the best areas to find it. Other cactus species found with Cylindropuntia chuckwallensis will also be described.

Michelle Cloud-Hughes
Thomas Cole has spent more than 20 years in sustainable agriculture, livelihoods, community development and humanitarian response work. Presently based in California, he has many years field experience across Sub-Saharan Africa- with significant time in Mozambique, Uganda and Ethiopia. His focal areas are in urban agriculture, food production system design, post-conflict recovery, organic horticulture, agricultural extension, permaculture, natural resource management and livelihoods. He spends much of his spare time in these countries climbing the odd mountain and researching succulent plants, primarily aloes. Thomas currently works as an agroecology and drought management advisor for global USAID food security programs, and provides technical agricultural support for numerous communities recovering from conflict and disaster. In California, he is the co-owner and operator of Cold Spring Aloes, a small succulent plant nursery and award- winning garden design business.   Thomas has a Masters degree in Humanitarian Assistance from the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University (US) and is a 5-time world Frisbee champion. In 2011 he co- authored two new species of aloe from Uganda (Aloe wanalensis and aloe butiabana), and is presently working on a field guide to all of Uganda’s presently known aloe species.

Presentation Title: Aloes from Equatorial Africa- A Journey Through Uganda

Tom Cole

Doug Dawson is a retired math professor and does extensive travel to areas of the world where succulents grow.  In recent years, he has organized  10 botanical explorations to South Africa and Namibia, hiking and camping on  local farms and public areas.

To aid in his travels, he has a background in languages.  These include German, French and Afrikaans.

Doug’s  private plant collection has an emphasis on seedlings, lithops, other mesembs, Arizona natives, and other cacti.  He is a member of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America, Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society, Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society and Desert Botanical Gard

Presentation Title: Lithops: The Wild and the Tame

Doug Dawson

Julia Etter & Martin Kristen Originally from Switzerland and Austria, they have settled down in Mexico about ten years ago and are (almost) Mexican. Coming from another scientific background, their interest in botany with the main focus on Agavaceae and Crassulaceae started in 1989. Since 1997 they are busy doing field research and since 2009 they are members of the scientific research team of the Institute of Biology of the Mexican university UNAM. Although their investigative work focuses on the two abovementioned plant families, they are not blind when it comes to nature's beauty and they are also taking pictures of cacti, "normal" plants, animals and landscapes. Their photographs and articles have been published in books, journals and on the Internet. More information available on their websites

Presentation Titles:

Jalisco: More than Tequila & Mariachi
Beauty Lies in Details: Colors & Shapes of Mexican Succulents

Julia Etter & Martin Kristen

Kelly Griffin became enamored of succulent plants at the age of ten. In college, he majored in applied physics but minored in horticulture. He worked as a greenhouse lab technician while in college .  His love of fieldwork also began early as his father worked for United Airlines. Wherever the family traveled, he sought out plants and visited botanic gardens. He wrote up his observations about Dudleya in natural habitat in the Cactus and Succulent Journal and has promoted their cultivation. He has researched, hybridized, and developed new plants as plant research and development manager for Altman Plants, located in Vista, California. He has introduced more than 100 succulent cultivars into the trade. He has traveled extensively in search of Succulent plants in Mexico, Cuba, South Africa, Australia, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Columbia, Madagascar, and Yemen/ Socotra.

Presentation Title: Madagascar ~ Plantasy Fantasy

Kelly Griffin

Steven Hammer has done extensive work on several of the genera Mesembryanthemaceae, but has concentrated on his research on Conophytum. He has travelled extensively in the regions in which conophytums are to be found, and has unearthed several new taxa. His book "The Genus Conophytum" brought order to the previous taxonomic chaos in which the genus has existed.

He is regarded internationally as one of the foremost authority on the mesembs and the foremost authority on Conophytum. He maintains probably the largest collection of mesembs at his home. His extensive articles on Conophytum and other mesemb genera, published in the society's journal, ALOE, the journal of the Mesemb Study Group (UK) and in other international succulent plant journals, are well known.

A research fellow at the University of Cape Town, he has been responsible for the official description of over fifty new species of succulents and has discovered many more.


Steven Hammer

Tim Harvey

If you have not heard Tim speak, you might not know that he is originally from England. He moved across the pond in 1992, falling a little short, working at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto for a couple of years. He completed the trip to California when he went to work in the Biotechnology industry. He was also able to relocate his cactus collection, started 20 years earlier, to a more favorable climate. Escaping with his morals intact in 2006, he enrolled as a full-time propagator and pollinator of his favorite plants, as well as becoming Editor of the Cactus and Succulent Journal in 2011. He makes frequent trips to his adopted country Namibia, as well as many appearances at clubs in Southern California, either as a Speaker, or as a Vendor at sales. Having a passionate interest in ex-situ conservation through propagation, he was able to use his scientific training to enliven the micropropagation facility at the Huntington Library, to the benefit of ISI. Never able to walk past a plant in flower without trying to pollinate it, he is also a keen hybridizer, with the pachycauls, Aloe and bulbs in his collection being defenceless subjects for experimentation.

Presentation Title: A Namibian Showcase

Tim Harvey

Ernst van Jaarsveld has been interested in succulents since a young boy collecting and growing succulent plants. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 succulent plant species. He is especially interested in the classification Gasteria and Aloe and other monocotyledonous succulents. His other interests include the Mesembryanthemaceae and Crassulaceae. He is a keen explorer regularly traveling to remote parts of South Africa, Angola and Namibia. Some of the expeditions include rubber canoe expeditions investigating remote river valleys. Ernst also regularly travels abroad and lectures on succulent plants.Ernst is a fellow of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America.

Ernst is a horticulturist at Kirstenbosch, where he is currently curating the Botanical SocietyConservatory. He has also recently (2012) been appointed extraordinary senior lecturer at the University of the Western Cape. He is the author of more than 200 articles (popular, semi-scientific and scientific) and several books. He is akeen explorer and for his latest study (cliff dwelling succulent plants), has visited cliff habitats throughout southern Africa.

Presentation Titles:
The Updated Gasteria
The Richtersveld

Ernst Van Jaarsveld

Gary James has had an interest in succulent plants from his youth. He grew up in South Pasadena, CA and spent many days visiting the Huntington Botanic Garden. He started a small succulent garden at his house and have been hooked ever since.

In recent years he have been traveling to succulent rich parts of the world to observe succulents in habitat.

At the present he has a modest plant collection much of which has been derived from collecting trips to parts of the world where succulents are found. His special interest is in succulent Euphorbias and Pelargoniums. He enjoys trying to figure out how to propagate the plants he has.

Presentation Title: Mexico's Desert Islands in the Sea of Cortez

Gary James

Zlatko Janeba has been engaged in study and cultivation of cacti and other succulent plants for almost 30 years. He enjoys all aspects of botany, like taxonomy, ecology, physiology, genetics, and ethnobotany. He visited South America (3 times) and Mexico (10 times). He lived in the SW of the USA for 7 years. He gives talks and presents slideshows about cacti in his home contry (Czech Republic) as well as abroad (Great Britain, Italy). He keeps publishing articles in a number of international journals, namely Cactus and Succulent Journal (USA), CactusWorld (GB), Cactaceae etc. (Slovakia), The Cactus Explorer (GB) and Kaktusy (CZ). He has published over 60 articles. He is a member of The Cactus and Succulent Society of America (life member), British Cactus and Succulent Society, Bromeliad Society International (life member), Society of the Czech and Slovak Growers of Cacti and Succulents, and Sociedad Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Cactáceas y otras Suculentas. He is a member of the editorial boards of Kaktusy (ISSN 0862-4372) and of The Cactus Explorer (ISSN 2048-0482).Member of the organizing team of the congress „Spiny Perspectives“ under the patronage of the Prague Botanic Garden in Troja in 2009. Collaborator and external advisor of the Prague Botanic Garden in Troja and of the Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marín Botanical Garden, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Presentation Title: The unexpected beauty: The Most Recent Discoveries

Zlatko Janeba

Panayoti Kelaidis, Senior Curator and Director of Denver Botanic Gardens Outreach Panayoti Kelaidis represents the Gardens in educational, professional and promotional endeavors as an expert in horticulture, science and art. He also acts as a liaison to botanical societies, professional horticulture organizations and green industry members. Kelaidis has worked at the Gardens for 30 years in many capacities. Most recently, he was the Curator of Plant Collections, where he supervised the curatorial staff and directed inventory, maintenance, interpretation and integrity for over 15,000 kinds of living plants. His far-reaching knowledge of horticulture in the mountainous and dry climate of Colorado has aided Plant Select®, a plant introduction program where Panayoti has helped discover and name numerous plants, as well as disseminate nearly 10 million plants. He designed the plantings for the world-renowned Rock Alpine Garden and helped implement Wildflower Treasures, South African Plaza and the Romantic Gardens among many other gardens at Denver Botanic Gardens.

Kelaidis helped plan and stage over 12 regional, national and international gardening conferences in Denver. He has delivered speeches in over 70 cities throughout the world on a wide range of horticultural topics and has published over 100 gardening works.

Tentative Presentation Titles:
Hardy South African Succulents for Temperate Gardens
New Ways of Gardening with Succulents in Colder Climates

Panayoti Kelaidis

Brian Kemble is curator of the The Ruth Bancroft Garden. He has been involved with The Garden since 1980. He is highly regarded in the horticultural world and lectures in this country and in South Africa on the Agave family, Aloes, Bromeliads, the history of The Ruth Bancroft Garden and other horticultural topics. Kemble has a B.A. in Philosophy from Antioch College. His work has been in the area of horticulture since 1976, including garden design and installation, tree trimming and garden maintenance. Brian's work for The Garden has included hybridizing of aloes, agaves, and some South American cacti. Brian has traveled extensively in Mexico and South Africa, studying and photographing plants in their native habitats.

Presentation Title: Agaves of Northeastern Mexico

Brian Kemble

Stephen McCabe has been studying and growing Dudleya for over 30 years and has been growing other succulents longer than that. He is the Director of Research for the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and Curator of Succulents. His interests are in the classification, evolution, ecology, and conservation of Dudleya and other plants. As a hobby he hybridizes similar species to each other within the following genera: Echeveria, Gasteria, Dudleya, and California monkey flowers.

Presentation Title: Dudleya Conservation: Threats and New Species.

Steve McCabe

Len Newton became interested in succulent plants as a teenager, and this influenced his decision to study botany. For his PhD he worked on the bio systematics of some tropical aloes. After teaching in England for a few years he went to Ghana, as a lecturer in Kumasi University. Many years later he spent one year as a Research Fellow in the Natural History Museum, in London. He then went to Kenya, where he is now Professor of Botany in Kenyatta University. He has explored remote areas in several African countries and in Yemen.

Dr. Newton has described over 50 new species, in several genera, and has many other publications. He was president of the IOS from 2006 to 2012. His awards include Fellowship of the CSSA (1995), the Dyer Gold Medal, by the Succulent Society of South Africa (1996), and the Cactus d’Or (Golden Cactus), by the Principality of Monaco (2009)

Presentation Titles:
Succulent Plant Discoveries in East Africa - Past, Present and Future.
Succulents and People in Africa

Len Newton

Andry Petignat was born in Toliara, Madagascar, He did all of his studies there. He attended the Plant Conservation Techniques Course at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 2001. Andry has been the manager of the Antsokay Arboretum in 2003 to the present day.

The Antsokay Arboretum was created in the 80’s by the late H. Petignat. It is situated in the midst of the Spiny Forest of southern Madagascar, an extremely vulnerable and threatened ecosystem. The arboretum is entirely devoted to the conservation of the plants from the southwest of Madagascar. To date the arboretum keeps more than 900 species of plants of which 90% are endemic to southwest Madagascar. These plants are included in 350 genera and 70 families. Among these, many are succulents species and are identified as particularly threatened.

Presentation Titles:
Extravagant succulents of Madagascar
Succulent wonders of Madagascar

Andy Pettignat

Jeremy Spath began his plant career nearly ten years ago at the San Diego Botanic Gardens in Encinitas, Ca. While at the gardens he was exposed to many different plant groups but was most attracted to succulents, cycads, bromeliads, palms and bamboos- which amusingly one docent at the gardens once referred to as man plants. While at the garden, Jeremy felt an urge to travel into the field to study the plants he loved to grow and has been hooked since the first trip. As to him, seeing plants in the wild felt like meeting old friends for the first time.

Jeremy left the botanic gardens to launch his landscape design company, Spath Landscape Design. Additionally, Jeremy works part time for Rancho Soledad Nursery in Rancho Santa Fe, Ca. overseeing seed propagation and succulent hybridization.

Jeremy spends most of his days working with plants, but is happiest in the field, since to him, nature is truly the best landscaper. 

Presentation Title: Exceptional Succulent Plants in Habitat, both Near and Exotic

Jeremy Spath

Greg Starr was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, and has grown to love the desert and its flora and fauna. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture, and after working in the landscape industry he went back to the University to study Botany and further his education in horticulture. He emerged from the University in 1985 with a Master of Science in Horticulture with a special emphasis on botany.

He opened Starr Nursery in the summer of 1985, and has specialized in low water use plants for landscaping in southern Arizona. Greg has traveled extensively in Mexico and the southwestern United States to study the plants for their potential landscape use in desert regions of the world.

Greg’s book, Cool Plants for Hot Gardens, was released at the end of April 2009. His second book, titled Agaves: Living Sculptures for Landscapes and Containers, was released in early May of 2012.  He is also a co-author for the upcoming Field Guide to the Cactus and Other Succulents of Arizona which was published in February 2015.

Greg spends most of his days tapping at the computer hoping another book will take shape, preparing PowerPoint presentations and tending to Starr Nursery, specializing in Agaves and related plants as well as other succulents and new introductions of perennials, flowering shrubs, and small trees from arid and semi-arid regions around the world.

Presentation Title: A Mexico Adventure

Greg Starr

Joe Stead is a full time staff member and a part-time instructor at Orange Coast College Horticulture Department in Costa Mesa, California. He has worked at the college since 1994. His passion and expertise is in the propagation and hybridization of many types of plants. He has co-authored articles published in the CSSA journal. His succulent garden design was a featured article in Sunset Magazine. He is currently working on new hybrid of Boswellia. Joe and his wife, Liann, currently live in Tustin, Calif.

Presentation Title: Propagating Plants and Cultivating Friendships

Joe Stead

Sula Vanderplank is a Biodiversity Explorer for the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.  Her research has focused on the macroecology of Baja California, with an emphasis on plant distributions along the Pacific coast and the adjacent islands, where the California Floristic Province meets the Vizcaino desert to the south. Her interests center on range limits, endemism, and changes in the biogeography and phenology of the plants in this ecotone. Sula serves as Science Advisor for the Mexican land trust Terra Peninsular, through which she is involved in several collaborative projects relating to conservation in NW Baja California, with particular regard to the conservation of Maritime Succulent Scrub, an endangered habitat found nowhere else in the world. 

Presentation Title:  Succulents on the Baja California Pacific Islands

Sula Vanderplank