Fresno Cactus and Succulent Society

New Venue: Redeemer Lutheran Church - Multi-Purpose Room (on the north end of the property)

Address: 1084 West Bullard Avenue, Fresno CA 93711 | Map & Directions | .

See you on February 7, 2019 | Doors open at 6:30 p.m. | Meeting starts at 7:00 p.m.

20 Years in the Atacama, The Land of the Copiapoa
Presented by Woody Minnich

Woody AtacamaSimilar to the coast of Namibia, the coastal and inland regions of northern Chile, known as the Atacama, is mainly watered by amazing fogs, “the Camanchacas.” These fog-fed regions, in two of the driest deserts in the world, have some of the most interesting cactus and succulents to be found anywhere. The Atacama of northern Chile has an endemic genus considered by many to be one of the most dramatic to have ever evolved, the Copiapoa. This ancient genus is also believed to be tens of thousands of years old, and there are those who feel it might well be on its way out! The ocean currents that affect the coastal Atacama have changed considerably over the last hundreds of years, and now its only source of moisture is primarily from consistent dense fogs. Some of these areas rarely, if ever, get rain and the plants that have evolved there live almost entirely off the heavy condensation from the Camanchaca.

There are many different Copiapoa species ranging from small quarter sized subterranean geophytes to giant 1,000-year-old, 300-head mounding clusters. Thanks to Rudolf Shultz’s excellent field work and his two comprehensive Copiapoa books, we have all been introduced to these amazing plants. Having worked with Rudolf in Chile, I can honestly say that the genus Copiapoa is without comparison! Now, having visited Chile numerous times over the last 20+ years, I have become familiar with most all of the representatives of this genus. With this presentation, I hope to taxonomically introduce you to most of the Copiapoa species as well as show their relationships and synonyms. Along with the Copiapoa, we will also encounter many other genera including the Neochilenias, Neoporterias, Eriosyce, Eulychnias, Trichocereus, as well as many of the other Chilean succulents. Chile also offers some of the best lunar landscapes, geologic formations, and spectacular beaches to be found in all of South America.

This last August 2018, I had the pleasure of leading a group of 20 crazy cactophiles in seven four-wheel drive trucks. Our objectives were to see most of the fantastic plants and spectacular scenery that are to be found in this the land of the Camanchaca. Most of our group were very young adults (25-35yrs), and they all wanted to see and know how us old timers (Rudolf, Woody, Ritter and Charles) used to do our explorations to the wild and seldom seen places of Chile. Not only did we take them on very bad roads, the kind of dusty, dirty two tracks we used to have to maneuver, we also had them camp out in the middle of nowhere with the scorpions.

No restaurants, no showers, no beds, and no bar! These camp-outs were exceptional as we could often see, without light pollution, the Southern Cross and the Magellanic Lights until the Camanchaca fog slowly blanketed our campfire discussions. What an incredible trip it was!

The energy of the young people and my memories of the last 20+ years in Chile made this an epic adventure, one I will never forget! Join me at the meeting, and hopefully you’ll share our exhilarating experience and the overall magic of this wonderful arid region, the Atacama.

Plants: Woody will be bringing a nice selection of plants for purchase.

Dinner: High Sierra Grill House, 2003 West Bullard Avenue Fresno, (559) 435-8500.
For reservations, contact Rosanna Rojas by Wednesday, February 6th to make reservations at 559.999.0017 or rfrojas96@gmail.com. Dinner begins promptly at 5:00 p.m. Reservations under Fresno Cactus Club. Members are invited to attend.