I have seen and know of an Australia that few people have ever seen and I feel a burning desire to share it with you. I want to produce a large nature book – a guide to Australia’s succulent plants. Many regard this continent’s interior as a wasteland, thinking that Australia has almost no native succulents except for a few barely fleshy weeds, unlike the well-known rich diversity of succulents in Africa. But I know that there are hundreds of spectacular and fascinating succulent plants out there, some of them so tiny you need to lie on the ground to see them, and others that show off their beautifully coloured flowers, stems and leaves. I want to tell you, and the world, all about them.
That Australia has no native succulents to speak of has been a long-standing and widespread view worldwide. Even the world famous British cactus & succulent author, Gordon Rowley also supported this view in his book The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Succulents (Salamander Books UK, 1978). In Australia, those in gardening circles and even the specialised cacti and succulent groups in all the major cities had little knowledge or awareness of what wonderful succulents could really be found “out there”.
I have found succulent plants growing in semi-arid or seasonally dry regions across most of Australia, sometimes even in tropical and other seasonally wetter parts of the country. In more moist and humid areas, there are some succulent plants that are found in drier micro-habitats, such as on exposed trees or rocks. Australia can boast at least 400 species that can be regarded as succulent. Much of Australia has the most irregular rainfall of any continent.
It is a land of drought or deluge, sometimes with little moderation in between.
For many years I have been taking pictures and notes of Australia’s ‘hidden’ succulent flora, both in habitat and in cultivation. This included scouring books, encyclopedia and the internet for scant information, while also contacting botanists and naturalists regularly about new discoveries.
Many of you will know my more general books about growing succulents (with Rudolf Schultz) – Succulents in the Home Garden and Succulents: Care and Health. In 2007, my years of research into our rich diversity of Australian succulents resulted in my first self-funded 240 page hard-back book titled Australian Succulent Plants: an Introduction (see AustralianSucculents.com for more comprehensive overview and reviews of this successful work). Despite never having been sold through any bookshop, the book sold out, showing a huge thirst for quality information about these unique Australian native plants.
These plants deserve to be shown and their stories told.
From 2007 until now, my research has been ongoing, as I collate data about new plants, update information and add new pictures of old plants. This means I now have the potential to produce an even more interesting and exciting book than the first one.
I want this book to be an attractive and useful field guide. One that is easy to use by anyone, whether a botanist, conservationist, naturalist, farmer, grazier, a traveller or a student or you’re just someone who is fascinated by all things natural, unusual, or botanical. It will help anyone from a city venturing inland, to better understand their surroundings. Perhaps it could even help them source the emergency ‘survival’ food and water obtainable from some of these plants, in the remote areas of which Australia has many.
Australia is a large island continent (as big as the USA). There are many books and internet resources about Australian plants but none cover the vast arid regions comprehensively. Shrubs, trees, grasses, are well catered for but the succulent plants are seriously neglected yet they are abundant and diverse and can be a common sight, even by roadsides.
At least 40 – 60 new Australian succulent plants will be introduced if this project goes ahead.
This campaign is designed to fund a book planned for completion by July/August 2014. I will be publishing it as a printed book first, and then it will be available on a disc as a PDF. If enough money is raised beyond the initial costs, then creation of an Ebook will follow.
Help back this project to tell story of our unique Australian succulents through my Kickstarter campaign. I have IRRESISTIBLE offers for you all!