Attila KapitanyBack my succulents book – it’s irresistible

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.

The exact scene only looked like this once in 10 years

The exact scene only looked like this once in 10 years

One of my favourites!

One of my favourites!

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.

Very desirable and ornamental rosettes 100mm across

Very desirable and ornamental rosettes 100mm across

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.

Yet another to tempt you

Yet another to tempt you

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.

Sharp and spiny species with which you may have a painful encounter

Sharp and spiny species with which you may have a painful encounter

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.

Two sample pages of the new book, showing the extreme variation within the distribution range of this species

Two sample pages of the new book, showing the extreme variation within the distribution range of this species

A carpet of colourful succulents in Kalgoorlie, WA

A carpet of colourful succulents in Kalgoorlie, WA

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!  button (1)

 

 

 

Like this post? Why not share it with a friend?


Attila Kapitany

About Attila Kapitany

I am immediate past president of the Cactus & Succulent Society of Australia with 10 years in this position, and also currently editor of its journal. I have thirty years of experience growing and marketing cacti and succulents. I am also a prominent member of the Horticultural Media in Australia, writing regularly in magazines, journals and newspapers and promoting succulent plants. I was co-founder and developer of the well-known Collectors Corner and Paradisia nurseries, where my interests focused on the breeding, cultivating and marketing of rare and unusual plants. I have travelled extensively to plant habitats around the world and had amassed possibly one of the largest collections of (mostly seed-raised) plants in Australia. Also, I have co-written seven books with Rudolf Schulz about succulents, with others as solo effort. My newest publications are a series of seven booklets on xerophytic Australia plants. Since 2007 I have dedicated much of my time and resources to promoting our lesser known Australian succulent plants, touring the Australian speaking circuit regularly and featuring on television and radio. This process is two fold, one being to introduce Australian plants to people, and secondly to encourage people to appreciate, then foster the desire to cultivate some in their gardens.

7 thoughts on “Back my succulents book – it’s irresistible

  1. James Beattie on said:

    This book will fill a hole that’s been present on Australia’s horticultural bookshelves for an appallingly long time. What a great idea – I’ll be telling everyone I know about it!

    I’ve been lucky enough to work in some intact remnants of coastal ecosystems here in Victoria, and I was amazed at the diversity of the coastal succulents I’ve observed. The coastal glasswort and shrubby glasswort growing side-by-side is a sight to behold, the latter producing woody, exposed stems and appearing akin to a miniature coastal tea tree. Just gorgeous. I can’t wait to read more about them.

    I look forward to the publication, Attila!

    • Attila Kapitany on said:

      Thanks for the support James! Coastal ecosystems were once considered useless salt marsh swamps. Now the Australian government values many of these areas highly e.g. the extremely rare Orange-bellied parrot is dependent on succulent plants as food in these coastal ecosystems.

  2. Zoé on said:

    Well done Attila, I was always charmed by wayside succulents growing like patches of Persian carpets along the sand dunes. Indeed they need their champion!

    • Attila Kapitany on said:

      I’m impressed with your words ‘patches of Persian carpets’ – that’s exactly what it is like when you encounter them for the first time. Sometimes scenes of these plants can be breathtaking! More Australians need to made aware. Cheers, Attila

  3. Eugene on said:

    I just need to thank you too for your work and passion over the years. It has been instrumental in our interest in all that is plump and spiky.

    Every time I suggest that someone should go and have a look for themselves at Collectors Corner, they come back speechless. An extraordinary place that always empties my wallet.

    Took our 5 year old grandaughter there the other day. She declared it the ” best shop in the WORLD!!! “….and it just simply is.

  4. steve cornell on said:

    hello attila, watched your video and you haven’t changed a bit, still have the ability to tell a story about something you’re passionate about and make it interesting to the lay man. good to see your face again.

    • Hello Steve,
      Surprised to see you here in my plant world saying hello! Glad to hear you’re alive and well and thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Attila

Feel free to comment (no need to register)
For help to identify a plant, find a gardening product or for general gardening advice, please use the Gardening HELP page.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *