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I am determined that the Society will support Cactus and Succulent lovers all over the world during this difficult time and we welcome members and non-members to attend. These meetings are a showcase to what the hobby is about and we welcome absolute beginners through to the more experienced amongst us. We have a Zoom licence for 500 participants and currently have almost 300 attending so we have more space for visitors (if necessary, we could extend this to 1000 participants).

The talks are scheduled to last about an hour but I have added extra time at the end to allow for any over run and also to give you an opportunity to tell me how you would like me to move the Society forward.

CactusWorld LIVE – Online talks for January

We are proud to announce a very special start to the New Year. The BCSS and the DKG are hosting a special evening for all our members and friends. This is the first time that we have come together for what will be a wonderful evening of cacti, succulents and friendship.

We have two very special talks from our great friends, Norbert Sarnes who is giving the cactus talk in German with English subtitles and Wiebe Bosma who is giving the succulent talk in English with German subtitles.

This really is an international event not to be missed. It’s not on the usual BCSS Tuesday so please make a special note in your diary.

This is a very special evening so please help us promote the hobby. We have a licence for 1000 attendees so let’s try and fill every seat in the house. Both these two talks are new and have never been given before so there is every reason to attend.

Both the BCSS and the DKG are giving away an annual membership in a special competition on the night.

Please contact me, Ian Thwaites, by email at
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., if you would like to offer to give future talks or are able to recommend any top-class speakers.

The meetings are open to all so please spread the word and encourage more members (and anyone else) to join in. These talks are NOT recorded and many of the lectures are one off ‘specials’ so there will not be another chance to experience the talk.

Topic: DKG/BCSS Special joint meeting
Time: Friday, 8 January 2021 at 7:00 PM (GMT)

Meeting ID: 837 0797 0937
Passcode: 212247
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jan 8


Topic: Showing and Judging: where to start?
Time: Tuesday, 12 January 2021 at 7:30 PM (GMT)
Meeting ID: 898 1414 6542
Passcode: bcss
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jan 15

A ‘behind the curtain’ look at the judging process, this talk is for everyone - from those who entered the virtual show and were unsure of the criteria, to those looking for tips of what judges are looking for when we are allowed to show plants again. This talk looks to dispel myths, offer tips and give you an opportunity to ask questions to four qualified judges about any aspect of showing. 

Presented by Gareth Darbon: 
Having graduated with a BSc in Medicinal Chemistry, Gareth has pursued a career in Analytical Chemistry and is currently employed at the world’s largest contract research organisation. Outside of work he still enjoys rugby, both watching and playing, having officially retired from first team rugby in 2018. He inherited a love of cacti and succulents from his mother and father and now has a modest collection, with a particular interest in small growing cacti and haworthias. He always enjoys exchanging cuttings with other members as this is where his first plants/ love of plants really ‘grew’. Gareth was elected to the Shows Committee for the first time in 2019, but having grown and exhibited plants from the age of 6, he has a large experience of many levels of shows and has used this experience to become the youngest ever qualified judge and has also had the pleasure of judging two National Shows. He has also passed on his experience to two junior members who have since qualified as judges. He enjoys bringing his natural enthusiasm for plants to a wider audience.


Bill Darbon retired in 2013 after a career in the Police service and subsequently at one of the Oxford colleges. He has been interested in cacti and succulents since 1972 and is currently Chairman and Show Secretary of Oxford Branch. He has a mixed collection of plants, favouring Haworthia, Mammillaria, miniature and small growing cacti and Euphorbia. He has served on the Shows Committee since 2007 and distributes the shows stationery. He enjoys all aspects of the hobby, especially exchanging views and cultural experiences with other members.

Alan Brown retired from teaching in 2007, allowing him to spend more time in the greenhouse. He is active in the Leicester Branch (since 1971), and has been Chairman since 1990. He has a mixed collection and enjoys the challenge of raising from seed. At present his collection includes Lithops, Gymnocalycium and Turbinicarpus, as well as Haworthia and Copiapoa. He considers that Shows and Exhibitions are important places to advertise our Society and hopes to be able to find ways to attract more younger members through these events.

Hazel Taylor had a long career in Finance, after scientific studies leading to a DPhil in bacterial genetics. This did not leave much time for looking after her plants until she retired in 2015. She now has a mixed collection of plants, mainly small-growing ones to fit the space available in the greenhouse. She joined the Shows Committee in 2017 and believes that continuing to hold successful local and National Shows (when we can do so again) is an extremely important part of what the BCSS offers to its members.


Topic: Dr Wolfgang Stuppy - Seeds – Time capsules of life
Time: Tuesday, 19 January 2021 at 7:30 PM (GMT)
Meeting ID: 865 9032 1597
Passcode: bcss
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jan 22

Synopsis of the talk:
In a pioneering SciArt collaboration, scientist Dr Wolfgang Stuppy and artist Prof Rob Kesseler used the scanning electron microscope (SEM) to explore the astonishing microcosm of seeds and fruits. Whilst Stuppy provided the scientific expertise to manoeuvre their way through the bewildering diversity of plants, Kesseler turned the black-and-white images obtained with the SEM into sumptuously coloured works of art. In this talk, Dr Stuppy will take you on a hitherto unseen journey into the world of seeds and fruits, revealing their intricate and often bafflingly unlikely structures and how they enable plants to survive in their different environments.

Speaker’s bio:
Currently curator of the Botanic Garden at Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany, Dr Wolfgang Stuppy spent 18 years as a botanist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Starting out as Threatened Plants Officer in 1999, he soon took on the role of Kew’s Seed Morphologist to support Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership. In this international conservation initiative, Dr Stuppy had found the ideal environment to feed his passion for the astonishing biology of seeds and fruits. A specialist in a rarely studied field, Dr Stuppy has authored numerous scientific and popular scientific publications and books. He is a keen photographer and his images have been widely published.drink, sit back and relax for an hour of entertainment.

Topic: Graham Charles - Gymnocalycium in habitat and culture
Time: Tuesday, 26 January 2021 at 7:30 PM (GMT)
Meeting ID: 894 1390 3930
Passcode: bcss
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The cactus genus Gymnocalycium is well liked by enthusiasts, second only to Mammillaria in popularity. Graham will talk about the history of the genus, the relationships of the species and where they grow naturally. He will introduce you to the best species to grow and tell you how to cultivate them. Having visited their South American home many times, Graham will show you some of the diverse habitats where gymnocalyciums can be seen growing in the wild.


CactusWorld LIVE – Online talks for February

Topic: Andreas Hofacker - A Journey to the Cacti of Brazil

Time: Tuesday 2nd February, 2021 7:30 PM (GMT)

Meeting ID: 817 1674 9495

Passcode: bcss

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More than 40 years ago I got my first cactus, a Notocactus ottonis. Since then I have been infected by the cactus fever and especially the Brazilian cacti. In the meantime I had the privilege to visit the Brazilian cacti several times at their natural habitats and to discover and describe some new species (of the Cactaceae, Bromeliaceae and Euphorbiaceae). 

A Journey to the Cacti of Brazil
Brazil is one of the centres of diversity of cacti. We will visit the cacti in the different biomes (habitats) and learn more about the fascinating and rich cactus-flora of Brazil. 


Topic: Woody Minnich - Conservation, Cacti & Succulents Around the World

Time: Tuesday 9th February, 2021 7:30 PM (GMT)

Meeting ID: 889 2420 9522

Passcode: bcss

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88924209522?pwd=NVJGZ2x0eU9iM1dxdjF4eXNudld3UT09


Never has there been a time when conservation of our cacti and other succulents has been more urgent! Due to many factors, our precious succulents, as well as many other plants and animals, are now facing severe problems. When traveling around the world in succulent rich regions, I have observed an amazing increase in the devastation of habitats and the illegal removal of many rare and endangered species of cacti, succulents, and other plants and animals. Not only are we losing these very special and unique plants, sadly enough, we are aggressively destroying many valuable and irreplaceable habitats. Our desires to urbanize and agriculturally develop great numbers of virgin environments have only produced severe ecosystem imbalances, thus the extinction, at a most rapid rate, of many of the world’s most beautiful and fascinating plants and animals.

There are many cacti and other succulents that are becoming very valuable to the collector’s egos and appetites. Generally, these plants and animals are those that we have a difficult time producing in the nursery. Due to their rarity in cultivation, they often demand high dollars in the trade. Also, because many of these special species take extremely long periods of time (10s to 100s of years) to develop their wonderful character, it is not commercially feasible for growers or breeders to produce them. The unscrupulous collector will often spend huge sums of money to get these unique and rare specimens. And with the demand and dollars being high, it has become more and more common for commercial collectors to find ways to acquire these special plants and animals. Now, with the internet being a very popular method of acquiring merchandise, our rare and endangered cacti and other succulents are being sold internationally with very little, if any, controls being enforced.

The countries that are most affected with cactus and succulent problems are: Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Namibia, Socotra, Somalia, South Africa, Peru, and the United States. All of these countries have well intended conservation programs, but most do not have the funds available to properly enforce their laws or monitor their endemic species. In this presentation you will see many of the cacti and other succulents that are considered threatened or endangered, and what has happened to place them in this perilous position.

Although, it may appear as if there are many difficult problems on the horizon, we shouldn’t give up! It is really encouraging to know, there are many positive things we can all do to help resolve our current plant and animal issues. A few simple efforts we can make are: do not buy field collected plants or animals, support the artificial propagation of rare or endangered species, support our nurseries who produce artificially grown material, modify our current international treaties to become modern, demonstrate our appreciation for artificially produced plants, and help our enforcement agencies to better stop illegal collecting and the sale of wild grown plants.

Our world is getting smaller and smaller, and as our human population continues to increase, we ALL need to do our part to help protect our amazing world of plants, animals, and habitats. Conservation is not a spectator sport. Please speak out when and where you can, as the future generations of all things depend on us.

Woody, as he is commonly known, grew up in the Mojave Desert and has had an attraction to desert plants and animals since the early 1950’s. He has been involved with the cactus and succulent world as a grower, field explorer, club and organization leader, writer, photographer, lecturer and presenter.

Having been a speaker all over the world, Woody is most often associated with giving presentations on his field work from the places he has traveled, such as: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Madagascar, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, Peru, Socotra, South Africa, the United States and Yemen. He is also recognized for having operated the nursery Cactus Data Plants since 1975. Woody’s show quality plants were often considered one of the standards for staging and horticultural achievement. His favorite genera include: Adenium, Ariocarpus, Astrophytum, Copiapoa, Cyphostemma, Fouquieria, Gymnocalycium, Lithops, Mammillaria, Melocactus, Pachypodium, Turbinicarpus, Uebelmannia, and Pachycauls in general.

He has published numerous articles and reviews in various journals (CSSA) and his photography is featured in many books including; “The Copiapoa” by Schulz, “The Mammillaria Handbook” by Pilbeam, “The Cactus Lexicon” By Hunt and Charles, as well as many others. As of November 2017, he is featured as the primary photographer in the new, sold out book “The Xerophile.” This book specializes in what the authors call, The Obsessed Field workers from around the world. He is also featured in electronic articles about conservation from “MNN Mother Nature Network” and “The Guardian Newspaper.”

Woody and his wife, Kathy, live in Cedar Grove, New Mexico. He is a retired secondary school teacher of 32 years where he taught Graphics, Art and Architecture. In the cactus and succulent hobby, Woody is recognized for his high energy and creative spirit. As an educator, he has become an important part of the hobby and thus is an honorary life member of twelve C&S societies. With 51 years in the hobby and 64 years in the field (old fart), he has many experiences to share and numerous photos to show.

Topic: Tom Glavich - Mutants

Time: Tuesday 16th February, 2021 7:30 PM (GMT)

Meeting ID: 871 9576 0917

Passcode: bcss

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87195760917?pwd=bjBoeDI1QU0vOHd4WlFtZGFhVXdTdz09


Tom Glavich is  along time grower of cacti and succulent plants.  He is one of the co-chairs of the Inter-City Cactus and Succulent Show in Los Angeles, the largest in the United States with typically 1500 or so entries.  He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Cactus and Succulent Society and the author of two booklets for the CSSA, one on monocots and one on dicots, both focused on beginners.  He is a frequent speaker and show judge at events throughout the Southwest United States.

This talk is a survey of mutant cacti and succulents, with a look at crests, monstrose, and variegated plants.  The talk includes examples of each, and discusses how loss of meristem control produces.  Sections of the talk show display techniques to maximize the appearance, and concludes with a section on cultivation and propagation,

Topic: Ralph Martin - What do those Latin names mean?

Time: Tuesday 23rd February, 2021 7:30 PM (GMT)

Meeting ID: 870 4236 0659

Passcode: bcss

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87042360659?pwd=TFZoVlQxWFdlbDhzZUpZNjdLcHZkQT09

feb 41

Ralph has been growing cacti and succulents since he was in primary school, when he acquired a Rebutia minuscula at a fete. He recently retired to North Wales, and there built his dream greenhouse - and Rebutias and Aylosteras still comprise one of the main parts of his collection. He studied Latin at school, but much of that concerned the Romans fighting wars, so is of rather limited use in this talk, as you might imagine. In fact, botanical Latin would probably seem very foreign to the Romans, as we will see as we explore how plant names work, and what the Latin names of cacti and succulents mean.

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