Thursday, February 9, 2012

A visit to Cactus Jungle in Berkeley, CA

I had a meeting in Berkeley yesterday, and I left home a little early to swing by one of the most unique nurseries in the Bay Area: Cactus Jungle. Located in a light industrial area just a few blocks from I-80, Cactus Jungle’s unassuming home belies the treasure trove of plants waiting inside the barbed wire-studded fence. Not a large nursery by any stretch of the imagination, it is nonetheless stocked with a nice variety of succulents, California natives, seasonal vegetables, and even bamboo! Owners Hap Hollibaugh and Peter Lipson clearly embrace the motto of this blog: “Bamboo, Succulents and More” :-).

I’d been to Cactus Jungle several times before, but I’d never had a camera along. This time I did, and I’d like to share some photos with you.

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Large Eve’s needle cactus (Austrocylindropuntia subulata) at the entrance
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Eve’s needle cactus (Austrocylindropuntia subulata)
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Plantings on the right-hand side of the entrance: prickly pear, spurge, assorted succulents and a large jade plant (Crassula ovata)
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Check out the trunk on that jade plant—and of course the flowers
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One of the unique things about Cactus Jungle: most plants are in non-plastic pots, including terracotta, glazed ceramic, wooden boxes (for large specimens) or eco pots made from natural plant fibers
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Wide variety of aeoniums, both larger plants…
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…and smaller
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Two particularly beautiful aeonium specimens: Aenonium ‘Sunburst’ on the left and Aeonium holochrysum on the right
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Aenonium ‘Sunburst’
                                                                                                                                                  
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LEFT: Aeonium atropurpureum getting ready to bloom
(which unfortunately spells the demise of this one rosette)
RIGHT: Aeonium balsamiferum
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Coreopsis gigantea, native to the coastal areas and islands of Southern California. I’ve wanted one since since seeing a specimen at Ruth Bancroft Garden. I was thrilled to find some at Cactus Jungle, and one of them went home with me.
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The largest of the four Coreopsis gigantea
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I was equally happy to see this large specimen of Yucca rostrata. While smaller plants are becoming easier to find, large ones are still quite rare (and expensive). I estimate that this one is 20+ years old.
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Fan aloe (Aloe plicatilis) or, as I call it, tongue depressor plant. One of my favorite aloes, but large specimens are costly.
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Assortment of larger aloes…
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…and an absolutely stunning spiral aloe (Aloe polyphylla). Berkeley has the perfect climate for Aloe polyphylla. This aloe dislikes temperatures above 90°F, and I keep ours in the shade in the summer.
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Another perfect Aloe polyphylla in good company
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Canary Island dragon tree (Dracaena draco)
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Shaggy-haired cactus from the Andes (I forgot to check the label, so I don’t know if it’s an oreocereus or another genus)
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Columnar…
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…and barrel cacti
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Whatever you preference, you’re sure to find something you like
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A particularly impressive golden barrel cactus cluster (Echinocactus grusonii)
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Blue barrel (Ferocactus glaucescens) getting ready to bloom. I’ve wanted one for a long time, but the $125 price tag was beyond my budget.
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The Cactus Jungle guys have a sense of humor!
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Large agave cactus (Leuchtenbergia principis)
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Agaves and dyckias make for a nice combination of colors and textures
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Freshly propagated sempervivums in pots made of natural fiber
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Succulent wreath and wall panel
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Vertical herb garden
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“Fat plants” in the rare plant room
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I even came across a cycad, a small coontie (Zamia floridiana)
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What goes better with succulents than bamboo!
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I was running out of time and couldn’t check their selection of pottery, but it looks like they have some nice pieces there

Cactus Jungle is located at 1509 4th St in Berkeley. Be sure to read their entertaining blog and check out their instructional videos on YouTube.

11 comments:

  1. Wow, that Jade plant is gorgeous. Had never seen the flowers on it before! Loved the Spiral Aloe. Too bad they don't like our weather! So many unusual things, was the car packed?

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    1. Nope, I only bought two plants. I like to have a wish list to make return trips worthwhile.

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  2. I had no idea Jade plants could get that large! Nice look at what seems like a very cool place. I like the idea of buying a plant in a nice pot already, although it seems like you're paying for something you don't need if you're going to put the plant in the ground. Interesting idea though.

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    1. I really appreciate their efforts to reduce the use of plastic containers that most people end up throwing away. At least a terracotta pot is more likely to be reused, and if it isn't, it's not going to pose much of an environmental burden.

      Frankly, I think getting a terracotta pot thrown in is actually a bargain, considering that virtually all 4" plants I looked at were $5.95. That's only a few pennies more than what a mainstream nursery charges for much more common plants.

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  3. Thanks for the tour, it looks like a fun place to visit. Cactus nurseries are almost an oxymoron up here in Canada. It might be worth a trip south in the near future.

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    1. There's a bunch of places to explore in the greater Bay Area. You should definitely plan a trip!

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  4. All that and a great blog too! (plus they like plantlust.com)...

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  5. Thanks for the tour Gerhard! Gorgeous succulents especially the Aloe plicatilis and polyphylla. The Leuchtenbergia principis is a new one to me, lovely! I see that it has the price tag to match too...

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    1. Leuchtenbergia principis is an interesting cactus. Long tap root, so it likes a tall (rather than wide) container, unlike most cactus. The "spines" are like dried paper, not at all sharp.

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  6. Super post Gerhard! Looks like a great place to visit! I need to go and get some sunbursts! My nephew and his girlfriend got me a vertical planter with plants for Christmas from there! So awesome!

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    1. Candy, you and I should go on a nursery-hopping tour of the Bay Area this spring!

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