British Cactus and Succulent Society

Highlands & Islands Branch

Travellers' Tales-2


Some Pictures from the Book
with captions

As a seedling, Trichcereus passacana in Argentina is as small as its relative Echinopsis klingeriana. After a few years spent growing in full sunlight, it will be the tallest plant in the habitat.

This leafy vine, Pereskia aculeata
is a true cactus native to the lowlands of the east coast of
South America. When they bloom, they have hundreds of
flowers with a fragrance so wonderful it is intoxicating.
These plants tolerate light frost - they would make excellent
garden plants in the warm humid areas of Florida and California.

Details of the Book
Title; A Cactus Odyssey - Journeys in the Wilds of Bolivia, Peru and Argentina
Authors: James D Mauseth, Roberto Kiesling & Carlos Ostolaza
Publisher: Timber Press, Portland, Oregon
ISBN: 0-88192-526-8

A Cactus Odyssey

This is a tale about tales - a whole book of them! The book relates to 'Journeys in the wilds of Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina', and it is quite outstanding in that regard. The three authors are as eminent in their professions as they are expert in the biology, ecology and cultivation of the Cactaceae.

Their account of these aspects of the subject reflects their deep understanding which, when coupled with outstanding ability to express that understanding in words, makes this book a positive must for anyone with an interest in cacti and succulents. However, it does not aim to be a guide on cultivation. Even so, it does contain a wealth of detail which makes it valuable in that way.

A conversational style allows us to share in the authors' excitement as they encounter plants that have rarely, if ever, been written about. Nearly 200 remarkable colour photographs accompany the vivid descriptions of unusual cacti growing in seemingly unsuitable habitats - alongside non-succulent plants, at altitudes of 8,000 feet or more, even in rain-forests! The authors' adventures come alive as they describe encounters with suddenly changing weather patterns, bad - sometimes treacherous roads, no electricity, exotic foods, and friendly, helpful locals during their journeys.

Examples; while searching for weingartias in central Bolivia, the authors trek through a dense tangle of sharp, spiny shrubs against which even long pants and boots cannot offer protection against considerable injury. In another part of Bolivia, they discover that they were exploring in an area frequented by jaguars, and in the the Andes of Peru they fight altitude sickness and snow storms to reach the high elevations where Tephrocactus grows; and there is much more!

Furthermore, in its 306 pages there are 195 colour photos, an excellent bibliography and good indexing.

        Click here to read the previous 'travel' issue

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