In the company of Derek Tribble, Andy Young, Steven Hammer, and other good friends, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit South Africa and Namibia many times. These often intensive field trips have resulted in the discovery of eight new conophytum taxa and one new avonia. On my second visit in 1994 I found a new species which was described by Steven Hammer and named Conophytum chrisolum in my honour. With Derek Tribble in 1996 we found a conophytum in western Bushmanland which Steven Hammer later described as Conophytum ectypum ssp.ignavum. Also in 1996 with Derek, Steven Hammer & Chris Barnill we discovered Conophytum tantillum ssp.amicorum.
In 2011, together with Andy Young, we described Conophytum buysianum ssp.politum in "Bradleya", the BCSS yearbook. In December 2012 I described a new species in the BCSS journal as Conophytum youngii. We discovered this together in 2011 and it gave me great pleasure to name it for my friend and current travelling companion, Prof. Andy Young.
Yet another new species we found in the Richtersveld in 2009, we described as Conophytum smaleorum in the September 2013 issue of the BCSS journal, for our good friend, the late Terry Smale. Our latest descriptions (2015) are Conophytum crateriforme and Conophytum confusum, both in BCSS Bradleya.
My passion for succulents began in the 1970's and quickly progressed from general interest, to the specialization of conophytum, crassula and adromischus that I have today.
As well as co-authoring the Adromischus Handbook, I’ve contributed to many other books and journals. I wrote "Cono Corner" in every issue for the first 10 years of the Mesemb Study Group Bulletin and still publish occasional articles there. I’ve written on conophytum & adromischus in NCSS/BCSS journals, Aloe and The Cactus File amongst others.
Photography has long been another interest and I’ve had pictures published in many books, including Steven Hammer's The Genus Conophytum. I am a contributing author (Conophytums & Commerce) in Steven's second Conophytum book, New Views of the Genus Conophytum, and also have photos in there.
Most of the seed I produce is donated to the Mesemb Study Group and is offered on their annual list. See http://www.mesemb.org/
I do not sell seeds, plants or books.
This website would not exist without the assistance of Peter Arthurs. I must also thank the friends who have allowed their images to be published here, where they have seen plants that I have not. Their photos are credited where appropriate. I am also well aware of the sensitivity of publishing locality data in this new age of poaching wild plants, therefore I have tried to use a general locality for the specialist to appreciate, without specific detail which may assist the bad guys to find these plants.
Growing guides and ex-situ cultivation
Conophytum, Crassula and Adromischus are all popular plants to grow in cultivation. They all grow in the same areas of South Africa and are often found growing together in nature, so one might think they would all require the same methods, techniques and environment to grow well. In some aspects that is correct, but in others there are differences which need to be addressed to grow them well.
I've written 3 growing guides (links below), one for each genus where you will see similarities as well as some major differences.
These South African succulent plants have been grown in cultivation ever since the first botanists arrived in the Cape and took samples back to Europe in the late 18th century. Conophytum minutum was first described in 1803 and there are still living examples in cultivation of some conophytums collected in the 1930's.
What is ex-situ cultivation? As time goes on, the plants we grow are facing more and more pressures on their natural habitats. It's almost all due to human activity. Intensive livestock farming has always been detrimental to their survival. New infrastructure of roads and habitation, mining for minerals and plant removal to satisfy collector demand are all increasing year-on-year.
On top of that but not always so obvious, is global warming, which is probably the greatest threat they now face. Recent times have seen continuously dry winters. In many areas, rain the plants depend on no longer arrives. Fog rolling in from the ocean to drench the plants no longer happens. Subsequently, plant populations in the W and N Capes are visibly dying.
Computer modelling has predicted it will get worse and do so within the next 50 years or less. Unless the plants can adapt and migrate, they will, in many cases, die out.
Ex situ conservation literally means, off-site conservation. The main objective of ex situ growing is to support conservation by ensuring the survival of threatened species and the maintenance of associated genetic diversity.
I believe we can all play a part. By growing and propagating what we already have in cultivation, we can all contribute to the survival of threatened species.
Tuberous Crassulas: Chris Rodgerson. BCSS Journal Vol.3, p.77-78 (1985)
Crassula mesmembryanthemopsis: Chris Rodgerson. BCSS Journal Vol. 4, p.31 (1986)
Conophytum reconditum: Chris Rodgerson. The Cactus File Vol.1 No.3, p.6 (1991)
Adromischus phillipsiae: Chris Rodgerson. The Cactus File Vol.1 No.8, p.4-5 (1993)
Anacampseros, Section Avonia: Chris Rodgerson. The Cactus File Vol.2 No.1, p.2-6 (1994)
Adromischus subviridis: Chris Rodgerson. Aloe Vol.31 No.2, p.39-41 (1994)
Adromischus herrei: Chris Rodgerson. The Cactus File Vol.2 No.6, p.5-8 (1995)
Adromischus: The Cactus File Handbook No.3 John Pilbeam, Chris Rodgerson & Derek Tribble. (1998)
Free download here; https://epdf.pub/index.php/adromischus.html
Conophytum bilobum: A Bi-partisan View : Chris Rodgerson and Steven A. Hammer. (Mickael Legrand e-publication from a 1999 MSG Bulletin paper).
Conophytums and Commerce: New Views on the Genus Conophytum by Steven Hammer. Contributing Author Chris Rodgerson. Appendix 7, p.363-364 (2002)
Conophytum bruynsii: Chris Rodgerson. BCSS Journal Vol.24 No.3, p.114-116 (2006)
The rough and the smooth: a reassessment of Conophytum reconditum: Andrew.J.Young, Chris Rodgerson and Steven A. Hammer. BCCS Bradleya No.29, p.93-102 (2011)
Conophytum youngii: The national road and another new Conophytum: Chris Rodgerson. BCSS Journal Vol.30 No.4, p.239-244 (2012)
Conophytum smaleorum: A new knopie from the southern Richtersveld: Chris Rodgerson and Andrew.J.Young. BCSS Journal Vol.31 No.3, p.197-201 (2013)
Avonia quinarioides: The description of a new species: Hagen Dreher, Chris Rodgerson and Andrew.J.Young. BCSS Bradleya No.32, p.105-111 (2014)
Conophytum bachelorum and it's relatives: the introduction of a new Conophytum from Namaqualand, Conophytum confusum. Andrew.J.Young, Chris Rodgerson, Steven Hammer & Matthew R. Opel. BCSS Bradleya No.33, p.40-49 (2015)
Conophytum crateriforme – a new dumpling from Namaqualand: Andrew.J.Young, Chris Rodgerson, Adam D. Harrower & Steven A. Hammer. 2015 BCSS Bradleya No.33, p.52-57 (2015)
The dwarf succulent genus Conophytum N.E.Br.: distribution, habitat and conservation. Andrew J. Young and Chris Rodgerson. ALOE Vol.52 No.2, p.43-49 (2016)
Crassula saxifraga - a tuberous geophyte: Chris Rodgerson. Sedum Society Newsletter No.120, p.34-35 (January 2017)
Day trips for Conophytums, Chris Rodgerson: Essex Succulent Review, Issue 12 - 2017
Exploring along the Orange River, Chris Rodgerson: Essex Succulent Review, Issue 14 - 2017
Who knew Conophytums grew on walls? (pt.1), Chris Rodgerson: Essex Succulent Review 19 - 2018
Conophytum bilobum, a divisive species. Chris Rodgerson: Xerophilia 24 - 2018
A day at the seaside. Chris Rodgerson: BCSS Journal Vol.37 No.1, p.59-64 (2019)
Mesemb Study Group Bulletin contributions:
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 1, 1 (1986)
Cono Corner: Conophytum ectypum complex by Chris Rodgerson, 1, 19 (1986)
Cono Corner: Two choice members of the Minuscula section by Chris Rodgerson, 1, 29 (1986)
Cono Corner: The Minuta subsection of the Wettsteiniana section by Chris Rodgerson, 1, 42 (1986)
Cono Corner: The Tiny Ones by Chris Rodgerson, 2, 2 (1987)
Cono Corner: The Hairy Ones by Chris Rodgerson, 2, 22 (1987)
Cono Corner: Cono Chat by Chris Rodgerson, 2, 42 (1987)
Cono Corner: Conophytum reconditum by Chris Rodgerson, 2, 61 (1987)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 3, 2 (1988)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 3, 23 (1988)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 3, 43 (1988)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 3, 64 (1988)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 4, 2 (1989)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 4, 28 (1989) Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 4, 51 (1989)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 4, 72 (1989)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 5, 2 (1990)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 5, 25 (1990)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 5, 47 (1990)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 5, 69 (1990)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 6, 2 (1991)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 6, 25 (1991)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 6, 50 (1991)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 6, 72 (1991)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 7, 2 (1992)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 7, 27 (1992)
Cono Corner by Chris Rodgerson, 7, 50 (1992)
Postcards from South Africa from Chris Rodgerson, 7, 77 (1992)
Cono's in the Wild (part one) by Chris Rodgerson, 8, 2 (1993)
Cono's in the Wild (part two) by Chris Rodgerson, 8, 26 (1993)
Cono's in the Wild (part three) by Chris Rodgerson, 8, 43 (1993)
Cono's in the Wild (part four) by Chris Rodgerson, 8, 64 (1993)
Cono's in the Wild (part five) by Chris Rodgerson, 9, 12 (1994)
Cono's in the Wild (part six) by Chris Rodgerson, 9, 37 (1994)
Cono's in the Wild (part seven) by Chris Rogerson, 9, 58 (1994)
Cono's in the Wild (part eight) by Chris Rodgerson, 10, 12 (1995)
South Africa Revisited by Chris Rodgerson, 10, 26 (1995)
South Africa Revisted (part 2) by Chris Rodgerson, 10, 47 (1995)
South Africa Revisted (part 3) by Chris Rodgerson, 10, 68 (1995)
Conophytum: Guest Editorial. An enthusiat's 25 year historical overview by Chris Rodgerson, 16, 34 (2001)
White-Flowered Conos (Normal and Not So) by Chris Rodgerson, 18, 74 (2003)
Orange Conophytums by Chris Rodgerson, 18, 76 (2003)
White-Flowered Conophytums(Part 2) by Chris Rodgerson, 19, 52 (2004)
Choosing a Digital Camera by Chris Rodgerson, 19, 47 (2004)
Cono Parade by Chris Rodgerson, 20, 58 (2005)
The Hunt for Conophytum boreale by Chris Rodgerson, 21, 2 (2006)
Conophytum mimimum ‘wittebegense’ by Chris Rodgerson, 25, 35, (2010)
A Couple of Days in South Africa, Parts 1 & 2 by Chris Rodgerson, 28, 49 & 52 (2013)
There are more of my articles in subsequent MSG Bulletins right up to the present day and back numbers are available.
Please contact the editor, Suzanne Mace for membership details; https://www.cactus-mall.org/msg/