An exciting development

Site of the Cactus Conservation Institute Research Station

Conducting and publishing good scientific research on the cactus species which are experiencing human pressure is our passion. To perform field work involving those cacti commonly requires the willingness to brave thorny vegetation and the ability to tolerate intense sun, high heat, and wind-blown dust that can be extreme enough to interfere with the functioning of cameras, computers and other electronics. These working conditions frequently impose some challenges for botanists, not simply from those discomforts, but also due to the sometimes lengthy road travel that is required to get to and from a research site.

Imagine the benefits of a research station that was located in typical Chihuahuan Desert cactus habitat. With the area immediately around the site being capable of and suitable for providing long-term and short-term study opportunities for many types of cacti and desert plants. AND with an added advantage of bringing the researcher closer to many other sites in the area containing threatened or endangered species — adding hours of productive time to their days. We are envisioning the CCI Research Station to be that resource in Presidio County, Texas.

We are creating a space that can accommodate a very small number of botanists at one time. Not in luxurious conditions but someplace providing shelter from the sun and elements, with basic camp facilities for preparing a simple meal, a composting toilet and a pad for a bedroll.  This can be accomplished off-the-grid using rainwater collection for water, with solar panels and possibly a small wind turbine for electricity.  Finding a suitable spot for such a research station and then acquiring the property could be a daunting task but fate has provided us with a one-acre donation of land to use as the permanent site for this facility. We have already broken ground by clearing the site — with the pouring of a concrete slab scheduled for later this month (September 2018).  We will be posting updates of our progress throughout the process of its construction.

Site of the Cactus Conservation Institute Research Station
Site of the Cactus Conservation Institute Research Station

Cactus Conservation Institute will be funding the majority of the costs involved in creating this valuable resource, but additional help from the public is welcomed.  Cactus Conservation Institute is a 501(c)3 educational organization, so all donations are tax-deductible. Substantial donors of $5000 or more should contact us directly; we are quite happy to discuss the plans in more detail. For all other levels of interest, there is a PayPal donation button conveniently located on this page. No amount of support is too small. A thousand dollars is only fifty $20 donations. Thank you for your interest and for your support of this exciting project.

 

Site of the Cactus Conservation Institute Research Station
Site of the Cactus Conservation Institute Research Station

 

Spread the word!

Our friends at the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative are seeking a conservation manager for their exciting project.

If you have the right skill set or know of someone who does please contact the IPCI about applying for the job.

Offer PDF: IPCI-CM-Position-Announcement

 

Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI)

The IPCI is hiring a new Conservation Manager!

Are you committed to sustainability and health and the future of the Peyote Way of Life for the Indigenous people of the Americas? Are you experienced working with the plants and the earth? Are you able to be organized, coordinate others, and work in an inter-tribal context? Are you ready to move and live in the Sacred Peyote Gardens of South Texas?

IPCI is looking for an individual, couple, or small family to put their experience and commitment to work joining the Native American Churches, Azee’ Bee Nahagha of Dine Nation, the Wixratica Nation and their Allies in conserving the sacred Peyote Medicine.

POSITION TITLE: IPCI Conservation Manger

ORGANIZATION: Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI)

LOCATION: IPCI Spiritual Homesite ‘the 605’, Thompsonville, Jim Hogg County, Texas

About IPCI:

The IPCI engages in diverse biocultural strategies for spiritual reconnection and restoration of Peyote, including land access and stewardship, youth education, the natural distribution of peyote, and a system of harvest and distribution that is spiritually and culturally sound. This is an international collaborative, supporting tribes and efforts focused on sustainability and indigenous sovereignty of peyote across the Native American Church, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

Mission: Empowering indigenous communities to conserve, regenerate, and reconnect to their sacred Peyote medicine for spiritual use for generations to come.

Vision: We promote the health, wellbeing, and cultural revitalization of Native communities through reconnection to, sovereign use, and sustainability of the sacred Peyote and the lands on which it grows.

Purpose: IPCI an indigenous led, land-based initiative that directly supports the spiritual, ecological, cultural, economic, and sustainability issues related to the sacred plant medicine, Peyote and its ceremonial uses.

 

Conservation Manager Qualifications:

● A Bachelor’s Degree or higher in a related field; encouraged but not required

● Member of Native American Church/ABNDN or Indigenous Peyote Tribe; encouraged but not required

● Love for Nature, the environment, the land

● Able to participate in design and creation of new activities and enterprises in collaboration with a diverse team

● Demonstrated leadership ability and able to be a community model for youth

● Physical ability to walk, lift and drive in the South Texas desert

● Able to have good relationships with diverse groups of people

● Able to maintain flexible and positive attitude

● Cultural sensitivity and awareness

● Conservation awareness, biology training, nursery background, landscaping or other demonstrated experience working with plants and soil

● Sober and willing to have a background check

 

Roles & Responsibilities:

● Operations Manager for the IPCI spiritual home ranch, known as ‘the 605’

○ Help lead the site development of ‘the 605’

○ Ecological monitoring on the 605

○ Pilgrimage coordinator and Onsite program coordinator for IPCI youth events and other related programs

○ Conduct permaculture development activities and serve as Nursery (Vivero) manager

○ Help manage budget for spiritual homesite activities

● S. Texas Regional Conservation Coordination

○ Help to develop and manage regional harvesting and distribution activities

○ Maintain relationships and support coordination with Ranchers and others participating in IPCI regional conservation leases

○ Attend IPCI Conservation Committee meetings and carry out and coordinate agreed upon conservation strategy tasks

 

Communication and Workflow:

● Weekly meeting with IPCI Initiative Director and share weekly work plan with Initiative Director

● Use appropriate time and project tracking methods as agreed upon with Initiative Director

● Conduct appropriate reporting to the IPCI Board of Directors as agreed upon with Initiative Director

 

Compensation:

● $39,000 per year

● Free Lodging on ‘the 605’

● Relocation expenses covered

● Additional training as needed

 

Please send questions, resume, and a cover letter to

Miriam Volat, IPCI Director at  miriam@riverstyxfoundation.

South Texas in March 2018

The Peyote Gardens

Some cacti that we encountered in March while we were in South Texas (images and data of the study group will be coming soon.)

Coryphantha (Escobaria) emskoetteriana in Starr County
Coryphantha (Escobaria) emskoetteriana in Starr County
Coryphantha (Escobaria) emskoetteriana in Starr County
Coryphantha (Escobaria) emskoetteriana in Starr County
Coryphantha (Escobaria) emskoetteriana in Starr County
Coryphantha (Escobaria) emskoetteriana in Starr County
Coryphantha (Escobaria) emskoetteriana in Starr County
Coryphantha (Escobaria) emskoetteriana in Starr County
Coryphantha (Escobaria) emskoetteriana in Starr County
Coryphantha (Escobaria) emskoetteriana in Starr County

 

Echinocactus texensis in Starr County
Echinocactus texensis in Starr County

 

Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County
Lophophora williamsii in Jim Hogg County

 

Mammillaria heyderi in Starr County
Mammillaria heyderi in Starr County
Mammillaria heyderi in Starr County
Mammillaria heyderi in Starr County
Mammillaria heyderi in Starr County
Mammillaria heyderi in Starr County
Mammillaria heyderi in Starr County
Mammillaria heyderi in Starr County
Mammillaria heyderi in Starr County
Mammillaria heyderi in Starr County
Mammillaria heyderi in Starr County
Mammillaria heyderi in Starr County

 

Sclerocactus scheeri in Starr County
Sclerocactus scheeri in Starr County
Sclerocactus scheeri in Starr County
Sclerocactus scheeri in Starr County
Sclerocactus scheeri in Starr County
Sclerocactus scheeri in Starr County
Sclerocactus scheeri in Starr County
Sclerocactus scheeri in Starr County
Sclerocactus scheeri in Starr County
Sclerocactus scheeri in Starr County
Sclerocactus scheeri in Starr County
Sclerocactus scheeri in Starr County

Early article on peyote

This is the earliest mention of peyote use that we have found appearing in the English language (a couple of centuries after the Spanish accounts).

 

From the The Times Picayune (New Orleans, LA), 1857, 30 September, page 1.

Letter from “The Colonel”
—-
Whiskey Root—-Southern Product—-Drying Whiskey—-A Dram’s a Drachm — A “Buckload” and “A Passel of Whiskey”—-Dealers and Consumers—-One of the Benefits of the Kansas and Nebraska Bill.
—-

[Correspondence of the Picayune.]
Rancho, Near Corpus Christi, Texas,
September 19, 1857.

My Dear Pic.—  Some time ago I wrote you that where was such a thing in this country as a “whiskey root;” you disbelieved; I now take my revenge by sending you the specimen. It is what the Indians call “Pie-o ke.” (as near as I can spell the pronunciation). It grows in Southern Texas on the range of sand hills bordering on the Rio Grande river, and in gravel, sandy soil. The Indians eat it for its exhilarating effect on the system, producing precisely the same as alcoholic drinks. It is sliced as you would a cucumber, and these small pieces chewed, the juice swallowed, and in about the same time as comfortably tight cock tails would “stir the divinity” within you, this indicates itself; only its effects are what I might term a little more k-a v o r-t i n-g, giving rather a wilder scope to the imaginations and actions. It can be sliced and dried, and in this way the Indians preserve it, then parch and serve it up as coffee or tea. It is evidently of cactus species, and it resembles that more than any other plant. I have never seen this particular root mentioned in any work, and believe these—and specimens I sent to the editor of the Southern Cultivator—to be the first specimens sent from the State. I wish you would have these analyzed, and publish the result. I would do this myself but for two reasons—1st, I have no crucibles, chemicals tests, or conveniences for accurately making the analysis; and 2d, even if I had, I don’t know how to do it. If, therefore, under these disadvantageous circumstances, I were to make the experiment, the result could not be relied upon as a chemical certainty.
This plant is suggestive of much reflection to the Southern man; it is a Southern product, and as such I am disposed to patronize it.
From its growing only among the rocky hills, its life is a hard one, and as such, I’m disposed to sympathize with it.
It being of home manufacture, we can supply ourselves cheaper than sending to the North, or elsewhere.
And just think of the advantage of a fellow hanging out his whiskey to dry!—a most decided improvement.
Think of the convenience of calling for a bushel of whiskey! for it’s a going to knock wet measure into dry, thus—say a bushel is 56 pounds, 16 ounces in a pound, and 16 drachms in an ounce. This would give 15,333 drachms to the bushel; or a bushel would give one man 15,333 drams, or give 15,333 men one dram each. And you can thus conveniently calculate from a single private individual up to a whole family, or to a—“general muster.”
It is going to benefit the dealer; for it settles definitely the question—what a dram is. But now, some men say—“just pour me out very little;” another will say—“give me a Buck Load”—which means five fingers on a tumbler—as that is the measure on his ramrod for a “buck load;” and yet will say—“I’ll take a passel of whiskey.” Under this new “Southern Institute,” a dram’s a drachm; and if one dram is not sufficient to line all the coats of his stomach, he can just say—“duplicate,” or—“cut me off another peck,” or “half bushel,” according to the size of the stomach.
It will be a great convenience to the consumer; for he can send a wallet and a tape string measure of how much he belts around the stomach, and the dealer consults his “table of measures.” and fills the order. Suppose for instance, a party of three gentlemen wish to go fishing, and want whiskey; their order would read thus:
“Mr. Whiskey-Straight”
“Sir—-Please send whiskey for party; two days; 3 men; measuring 36, 47, and 83 —tight. Yours, in spirit and in truth.
“Rum One.”
“N.B. See it well tied up in the bag, and don’t throw it loose on Jo’s saddle, as he is apt to drop some on the road.”
The discovery of this valuable product, totally refutes the Northern fanatics’ assertion that “the South cannot subsist without the North.” It never grew, in luxuriance, until after the passage of the Kansas and Nebraska bill—which leaves to the people the right to form their domestic institutions in their own way.
But I send it to you as a botanical novelty, and shall remain in a state of excitement—I have some of it dried—until I hear the result of the chemical analysis. Your, &c,
The Colonel

Presidio County in March 2018

Acacia roemeriana with carpenter bee

A few images of some of the cacti that we encountered in Presidio County earlier this year.

Ariocarpus fissuratus
Ariocarpus fissuratus
Ariocarpus fissuratus
Ariocarpus fissuratus
Ariocarpus fissuratus
Ariocarpus fissuratus
Ariocarpus fissuratus
Ariocarpus fissuratus
Ariocarpus fissuratus
Ariocarpus fissuratus

Ariocarpus fissuratus
Ariocarpus fissuratus
Ariocarpus fissuratus
Ariocarpus fissuratus

Coryphantha echinus
Coryphantha echinus
Coryphantha echinus
Coryphantha echinus
Coryphantha tuberculosa
Coryphantha tuberculosa
Coryphantha tuberculosa
Coryphantha tuberculosa
Coryphantha tuberculosa
Coryphantha tuberculosa
Echinocactus horizonthalonius
Echinocactus horizonthalonius
Echinocactus horizonthalonius
Echinocactus horizonthalonius
Echinocactus horizonthalonius
Echinocactus horizonthalonius
Echinocactus horizonthalonius
Echinocereus dasyacanthus
Echinocereus dasyacanthus
Echinocereus dasyacanthus
Echinocereus dasyacanthus
Echinocereus dasyacanthus
Echinocereus dasyacanthus
Echinocereus stramineus
Echinocereus stramineus
Echinocereus stramineus
Echinocereus stramineus
Epithelantha micromeris
Epithelantha micromeris
Epithelantha micromeris
Epithelantha micromeris
Hamatocactus hamatocanthus
Hamatocactus hamatocanthus (now Ferocactus hamatocanthus)

Hamatocactus hamatocanthus

Hamatocactus hamatocanthus (now Ferocactus hamatocanthus)
Hamatocactus hamatocanthus (now Ferocactus hamatocanthus)
Jatropha dioica with Lophophora williamsii
Jatropha dioica with Lophophora williamsii
Lophophora williamsii
Lophophora williamsii
Lophophora williamsii
Lophophora williamsii
Lophophora williamsii
Lophophora williamsii
Opuntia phaeacantha
Opuntia phaeacantha
Opuntia rufida
Opuntia rufida
Sclerocactus uncinatus
Sclerocactus uncinatus AKA Glandulicactus uncinatus AKA Ancistrocactus uncinatus

Turnera diffusa

Turnera diffusa

Another plant that we encountered near the Rio Grande was damiana (Turnera diffusa AKA Turnera aphrodisiaca).

Turnera diffusa
Turnera diffusa
Turnera diffusa
Turnera diffusa
Turnera diffusa
Turnera diffusa
Turnera diffusa
Turnera diffusa
Turnera diffusa
Turnera diffusa

The Wall

7 mile long fence in Hudspeth County

Dr. Norma Fowler crafted a very nice letter concerning the impact of Trump’s Wall on wildlife and fauna in the border lands. We thank her for granting permission to post a downloadable PDF on our website.

Fowler et al 2018 Frontiers border wall letter

We recently had opportunity to see the 7 mile long fence in Hudspeth County that was built during the Bush administration.
The proposed Wall will be taller, much longer (the border is 1,989 miles long) and much more substantial.

7 mile long fence in Hudspeth County
7 mile long fence in Hudspeth County

 

Physaria thamnophila (Rollins & E.A. Shaw) O’Kane & Al-Shehbaz

Physaria thamnophila

This is our first blog post but it is not about a cactus.

In March of 2018, we were fortunate to have been permitted to see the rare and endangered Zapata bladderpod in habitat.  Its habitat is small but federally protected and off-limits to casual visitors. Despite that level of protection, it is threatened by the building of a wall between the US and Mexico as said wall has to be built far enough from the river so as to be on stable ground.

This was formerly known as Lesquerella thamnophila Rollins & E.A. Shaw.

Physaria thamnophila

Physaria thamnophila
Physaria thamnophila in habitat
Physaria thamnophila
Physaria thamnophila in habitat
Physaria thamnophila
Physaria thamnophila flower
Physaria thamnophila
Physaria thamnophila flower
Physaria thamnophila
Physaria thamnophila
Physaria thamnophila
Physaria thamnophila seedpods
Physaria thamnophila
Physaria thamnophila seedpod

Physaria thamnophila
Physaria thamnophila hairs
Physaria thamnophila
Physaria thamnophila hairs