CSSA Show & Sale at the Huntington—and my plant haul

The reason I went to the Huntington a couple of weeks ago was to attend the 2019 Show and Sale of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America (CSSA)—the 54th, it turned out! The judged show is open to members of the CSSA or one of its affiliated clubs. As one of the most prestigious cactus and succulent exhibitions in the country, it draws top-tier growers and collectors, resulting in an amazing assemblage of plants.

The show and the accompanying plant sale were held at the Huntington's Brady Botanical Center. Succulents were in one building, cacti in the other. The trophy table with the top winners in each category was in the same room as the cacti; it had better natural light so it was easier to get good photos.

I photographed the plants that caught my attention for one reason or another—sometimes because of their beauty, sometimes because of their weirdness. Some plants are simply so strange that you don't know what to think. Above all, I want my photos to show the huge range of succulents, including caudiciforms (“fat plants”), which store water in their swollen roots or trunks.

Tacitus bellus by Nels Christiansen. This Graptopetalum-relative has huge flowers compared to the size of the body.

Euphorbia platyclada by Peter Walkowiak
Euphorbia cylindrifolia ssp. tuberifera by Mike Hackett

Dudleya brittonii

Sansevieria kirkii by Steven Duey

Pedilanthus macromeris (crested)

Echeveria 'Cubic Frost' (crested) by Al Mindel

Haemanthus humilis ssp. hirsutus, a South African bulb

Drimiopsis 'Mkuze Falls', another bulb

LEFT: Pachycormus discolor   RIGHT: Operculicarya decaryi by Rhonda Surles

This "rock" next to the Pachycormus discolor isn't a rock at all, but extruded clay

Dyckia goehringii by Steve Ball

Dyckia 'Battle Axe'

Dyckia 'Carol [illegible]'

Sulcorebutia mentosa
Agave applanata 'Cream Spike' by Jim Hanna with extreme hemispherical variegation

Agave parviflora 'Variegata' by Tim Harvey

×Mangave 'Kaleidoscope'

×Mangave 'Iron Man'

Agave victoria-reginae 'White Rhino' by Jerry Williams

Aloe castilloniae

Decarya madagascariensis by B. Ikemura

The next set of photos are of the trophy winners (all classes) and of cacti.

This was my favorite award:

The “Best Plant in a Plastic Pot” award was created by all-round succulent guru, editor of the CSSA's Cactus and Succulent Journal, and jokester Tim Harvey:

Trophy table:

Trophy table

Fouquieria purpusii

Leuchtenbergia principis

×Mangave 'Lavender Lady'. It was exciting to see several of Hans Hansen's ×Mangave hybrids in the show

Agave albopilosa by Mike Hackett

Agave albopilosa by Mike Hackett

Copiapoa cinerea

Ariocarpus retusus by Peter Walkowiak

Mammillaria plumosa by Greg + Anna Cavanaugh

Astrophytum myriostigma 'Onzuka (Quadricostatum)'

Oreocereus celsianus

Ferocactus emoryi

The sale outside the Brady Botanical Center featured a couple of dozen plant and pottery vendors. I went both on Friday and Saturday but didn't manage to take a single photo. I was simply too busy plant- and bargain-hunting!

Below is my haul. Most of these plants came from the Huntington's own table. It featured many ISI introductions from previous years and had the best prices—I don't think a single Huntington plant I bought was over $10.

As for where they will go, that's the perennial question. Most are too small to be planted out anyway so they'll stay in pots in the pot ghetto until they're larger. By then, spaces will have opened up somewhere.

Here's a complete list of my purchases. This is for me more than for anybody else, seeing how I use this blog as my personal garden journal.

Aloesomaliensis x congolensis
Cereusforbesii‘Ming Thing'
Ferocactuslatispinus‘Yellow-spined form'
Hechtialanata x myriantha

Needless to say we drove to Pasadena. It would have been impossible to bring home all these plants on the plane.

Orostachys spinosa, a member of the Crassula family from Siberia and Mongolia—places with harsh winters. It's hardy to -30°F. This clone sold by the Huntington through their International Succulent Introduction program is a more heat-tolerant form. I'm happy to try it out.

LEFT: The flat leaf with the asymmetric lobes belongs to Disocactus crenatus ‘Chichicastenango’, another ISI introduction. It's "vigorous and resilient" and has beautiful large white flowers. I'll give it a try outside.

Hechtia lanata × myriantha

A trio of Ursulaea tuitensis. One was a gift to my friend Ursula. So cool to have an entire genus named after oneself!

FRONT LEFT: Fouquieria burragei, a white-flowering ocotillo relative from Baja California
FRONT RIGHT: Cleistocactus brookeae, a close relative of the more common silver torch (Cleistocactus strausii) which has done really well for me outside in a relatively small container


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  1. You got some great plants! Excellent show photos, too.

    The lighting in the Cactus/Trophy room was really good, the plants, even better.

  2. I hope to make it to that event someday-business travel interferes with everything. There are several plants you shared that I would love to own- the Sansiveria ! A.'White Rhino" ! Decarya !

  3. This show is definitely several cuts above the other "local" shows I've seen. I WILL get there one day! It may be the only way I can get myself something in the elusive Hectia genus. I fell for the Sulcorebutia mentosa too - I've ever seen that one before.

  4. Nice haul, what fun you must have had...

  5. Your shot of the thorny Madagascar plant with its thorny shadow: {chef's kiss}

    That Agave albopilosa on the trophy table looks awfully familiar... as does the patchy-birthmark variegated cactus. Well, the judges know what they like.

    The four-part white whatever is waaay over on the edge of the plant world, merging into animal and mineral at the same time. Fascinating, but more than a little creepy.

    Which can't be said of your colorful and healthy haul; it's just plain fascinating!


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