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ISSUE 7 (8):

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    In 1972 the first meeting of cactophiles took place in Alma-Ata. 24 clubs of 26 clubs existing then were represented there. They decided to organize the coordinating board. Irina A. Zaletaeva was elected the chairwoman, Andrey P. Sokolov was elected her deputy. In 1973 the second meeting took place in Sumi, Ukraine, where Irina A. Zaletaeva asked in a letter to relieve her of her post. Then Andrey P. Sokolov was elected the chairman. There were 8 such meetings in different towns, the last in 1983 in Alma-Ata. Then the coordinating board broke up.

    For April 1987 in USSR there were 212 clubs with 4.5 thousand members. Nobody knows how many cactophiles there are in the country in general.

    "Astrophytum" № 4 April 1987, dedicated to Andrey P.Sokolov's 80th anniversary.

Andrey P. Sokolov

Photo 1. Andrey P. Sokolov.

CACTI - 72 (The thesis of the reports of 1st cactophiles' conference), Alma-Ata, 1972. Condensed version "Last spring during my stay in Moscow I had a very interesting conversation with Irina A. Zaletaeva concerning the present situation of growing cacti in USSR.

After I came home I consulted my club mates and pen-friends and started gathering the addresses of big collectors and clubs. Finally I sent inquirers to cactophiles in 85 towns of the USSR. I got responses from 60 towns. Only in 21 there were clubs, most of them under the care of environmental organizations. In dozens of towns there were basis, there were cactophiles that gathered together. We sent 2-3 letters with useful ad-vice and in several months got an answer - the club is organized. They asked how they could keep the mem-bers, where to find seeds, plants, and literature as their knowledge was not enough and so on.

Photo 2. Cacti clubs leaders.

Here we got the idea of renting slides to help young clubs. I will tell more about it in the second part of my report. Since January, 1, 1971 when there were 21 cacti clubs in the USSR 14 more have appeared during the year. So, by January, 1, 1972 there were 35 cacti clubs.

The oldest cacti club was found in Moscow in 1953. Six years later such clubs appeared in Leningrad. How to explain such dynamic growth of cacti clubs which means the growth of interest to cacti?

In the beginning of the century a great Czech cactophile Albert Frich explained it very neatly in his fa-mous phrase: "Look for relaxation with the modest nature creatures and find what a modern person needs - peace and optimistic view of life". I heard more than once from cactophiles that coming home tired after work it takes 10 minutes to watch their plants to feel relieved.

No wonder there are cacti societies and specialized magazines in advance develop countries and big cit-ies. Here is the list:

  • Britain - 3 societies, 7 magazines;
  • Austria - 5 magazines;
  • Japan - 5 magazines;
  • USA - 4 societies, 3 magazines;
  • New Zealand - 3 magazines;
  • Australia - 2 magazines;
  • Belgium - 2 magazines;
  • France, Holland, Mexico, Hungary, Czechia - 1 magazine.

In the USSR several magazines publish articles on cacti. These are "Young Naturalist", "Science and Life" and "Flower-growing". Specialized articles are not published unfortunately. Big societies like in Moscow copy their members' reports and spread them among clubs in other towns.

Photo 3. Copy of cacti magazine.

Now let me pass to the second part of my report, and set forth the prospects of developing cacti-growing in this country." Then Andrey P. Sokolov develops his idea of creating an all-union society of cactophiles which would unite the clubs. The society would lead the future magazine, organize and control purchases of seeds from abroad, change of domestic seeds, rent of slides and promote cacti-growing in the country. It should repre-sent cactophiles from the USSR abroad.

Cacti-growing in Russia in the beginning of the 21st century
Walery Serovaiskiy

By the end of the epoch of "socialism" there were more than 200 cacti clubs in the USSR. Only in Rus-sian Federation there were about 100. Clubs were united in republican and all-union societies. All-union seminars, conferences and fairs were held. Hundreds of cactophiles from many towns participated in them.

After the collapse of the USSR most clubs vanished. In the conditions of impoverishment cacti receded into the background. It took all your forces just to survive. Still people did not give up their hobby at homes. But as people adapted themselves to the new economic conditions their interest to collecting cacti and social-izing with colleagues grew.

Vanished clubs began to restore, also new ones appeared. Of course, it is due to the enthusiasts able to persuade administration to patronize such clubs and give them room for expositions, meetings, lectures and so on.

Now there are about 30 cacti and succulent clubs in Russia. It is much less than it is used to be, but the tendency is positive. In about a dozen of cities and towns clubs are going to appear or reappear.

A new thing in amateur cacti collecting is issuing private magazines on cacti - "Cacti and not only" and "Cacti club". It was absolutely impossible in the times of the USSR.

In 1998 the first national society in Russia was found. It was Russian Society of Studying Cacti and Suc-culents (RSSCS). This society unites amateurs on the principles admitted in civilized countries (that is inde-pendently on the place of residence, age, without entrance or membership fee). In the times of the USSR societies united clubs, not persons. The society issues two magazines registered in the international classi-fier. One of them is "Cacti and other xerophilous plants" (ISSN 0236-3216) is for large section of amateurs, it is issued 4-6 times a year. The other magazine "Succulents" (ISSN 0236-4700) is for specialists, it is pub-lished in Russian and English, it is issued twice a year.

The society works a lot at popularization cacti and other succulents among people, organizes regular ex-hibitions. The members of RSSCS number about 200 cactophiles. Most of them are from Russia, but there are also members from Ukraine, Kirghizia, Kazakhstan and other former Soviet republics. There are also applications from abroad. As a conclusion I can say that cacti-growing is raising. There are lots of young people showing interest. 25% of RSSCS members are teenagers. This looks very promising.


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