The first set of plants we are going to learn in xeriscaping are the succulent and cacti around town. Heres a few handfuls of basic forms to learn. After that you can specialize in the details and be more fussy about nomenclature. If you get these down, then you graduate and can move on to the next group of plants. Here is about 24 plants plus or minus.

Page one and page two are all succulents that are not poky. Well some Aloes have a bit of an edge to them but they are like spines covered with a dob of silicone or lambskin gloves. Cant really hurt ya. Most belong to this family called Crassulaceae which all the biology majors learn about because of their special metabolism. Its like this – most plants work during the day when the sun is out and rest at night. With the crassulaceous ones, with where they live, its too hot to work during the day. So they do some of the work at night, simple like that. Like those mediterraneans who take a little siesta when the sun is beaming, then back to work and dinner at like 10 pm and the merriment lasting long beyond that.

A few members on page one and two are of the Aizoaceae family which when blooming look like the brightest glowing colors the universe can conjure up. Theres also a couple of cactis on these pages but not the typical ones you think of. They are flat pads of non-poky cactus that grow hanging off the foggy wet barky crotches of high mountain trees. Not living in the desert sands or hard scrabble hills. Hey, theres all kinds…

Page three is the poky poke succulent and cacti around here. The poky pokes range from tiny irritating hairs to large thin spines to fine sharp curved fish hooks to a seven gauge sewing needle with a point on it that spells ‘caution’.

The assignment? Study the pictures. Then when we go out for a walkabout you can look for these new friends and try to make an impression. Maybe pick one up to take home, chat about this and that. Cultivate, grow, reproduce, and share with your mates.

These are stressed out Aeoniums, Cotyledon orbiculata, Aloe arborescens, and Agave attenuata in the flower bed out in front of the college by St Francis of the Guns statue by Benny Bufano.

At La Playa Park by Java Beach on Judah and the Muni turnaround, a few of our new friends:

Special thank you to our tour guide and manager of La Playa Park, Anthony Locher!