Mexico is considered by many to be one of the richest regions in the world for cacti. From the United States to the north, to its southern border of Guatemala, there are an amazing number of genera and species to be found. These range from the tiny Turbinicarpus to the giant Pachycereus. Within the reaches of Mexico, there are many diverse geologic environments. These habitats vary from the coastal and inland lowlands to its many high mountain niches. For almost 50 years, I have been lucky enough to have traveled most all of Mexico. Thus, my favorite regions for exploring include the most popular Baja California, to the mysterious Sierra Madre Occidental, and the succulent rich Sierra Madre Oriental. It is from these famous territories that the majority of the highly desired collector’s taxa are to be found.
One might think that Mexico, being so close to the United States, would have been totally explored and there would be nothing new to find. Nothing could be further from truth! We are now finding new species of cacti and other succulents at an astonishing rate. These new finds have become a reality mainly because of the construction of many new roads leading us into what was previously unexplored territory. Coahuila, Durango, and Zacatecas embody many of these remote regions where few explorers have had the opportunity to botanize. These areas now are rapidly opening up!
The ever-popular genera of Agave, Dasylerion, Fouquieria, Ariocarpus, Astrophytum, Aztekium, Echeveria, Gymnocactus, Mammillaria, Pelecephora and Turbinicarpus are just a few of the genera where the addition of new species has become common. Due to the excitement and interest in these new plants, there have been numerous negative side effects that have evolved. This increased interest in these new plants, combined with the commercial powers of the internet and Google, has created new distribution avenues for the marketing of the rare and or endangered species. Plants that I have seen for many years are now facing new threats from commercial collecting. CITIES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and the enforcement of local and international laws regarding illegally collected plants has had very little impact on cur-tailing the destruction of specific plant populations.This is especially true when plants are new or highly desired because of their scarcity in the collector’s circuit.
Come join me as I show you many of the new cacti and other succulents of Mexico. Also, I hope to share with you what is happening to these wonderful plants, partly as a result of our new electronic world and the power of money!
Wendell S. "Woody" Minnich
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 and Pachycauls in general.
He has published numerous articles in various journals, and his photography is featured in many books, including The Mammillaria Handbook by Pilbeam, The Copiapoa by Schulz, and 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 book The Xerophile. This book specializes in what the authors call “The Obsessed Field Workers” from around the world.
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 ten C&S societies. With 45 years in the hobby and 64 years in the field, he has many experiences to share and
numerous photos to show.