THE CACTUS COLLECTION AT ROGAŠKA SLATINA
The first cactuses did not appear in Europe until the mid-16th century and the interest in growing them slowly spread from England and France to other parts of Europe. However, it was not that simple to grow plants from hot deserts and until the problem of wintering in our climate was solved, only a few species had been grown. Between World War I and II, collections started appearing in Slovenia as well. At Rogaška Slatina, Mr. Zvonko Čoh has collected these plants for over 40 years and has built up one of the richest collections in Europe. His collection was purchased by the Municipality of Rogaška Slatina and presented to the general public when the cactus pavilion was set up.
ABOUT THE COLLECTION
The cactus collection at Rogaška Slatina comprises a number of widespread cactus species, but its main value lies in rare species that are difficult to find in collections and are therefore priceless. According to the expert estimate of the “Friends of Cacti Society of Slovenia”, the collection boasts more than 5,000 cactuses and other succulents of different ages. Since the former premises of the collection were unsuitable, the Municipality of Rogaška Slatina has built a more suitable greenhouse which is open to the local population and visitors to Rogaška Slatina. The project has been co-financed by the European Union’s INTERREG IIIA.
Many species and shapes of cactuses are very attractive and interesting even for those visitors who are not botanical experts. We would like to present some of them to the general public.
Below we present some interesting cactuses from the collection
The oldest cactus in the collection:
Ariocarpus, which is more than 60 years old
The smallest cactus
is Blossfeldia liliputana, which is no more than 1 cm in width and height. It grows in Argentina and Bolivia at about 1,500 m above sea level.
Dirty Old Man Cactus
The shape of the cactus resembles … something ugly? Something beautiful? Anyhow, this magnificent cactus reflects victory, just as phallic objects have always symbolised fertility. This cactus is among the largest of its kind in Europe.
A cactus that flowers for the first time after 40 years.
Juvan’s Houseleek (Sempervivum juvanii)
A special place next to the glasshouse will be reserved for the famous Slovenian endemic Juvan’s houseleek, which grows only on the nearby Donačka gora and Resenik. And even there it is low in number, so that it is considered one of the rarest plants on earth. Houseleeks are succulents, storing water in their leaves. They are known to have healing effects, as they contain substances that treat ear infections and help remove warts. They used to be planted on thatched roofs to prevent lightning strikes.
Cactuses in ritual ceremonies
Small divine mushrooms is the name of a group of cactuses from Mexico. They contain unique substances, some even causing hallucinations. The most popular are the San Pedro cactus and peyote. Growing peyote is illegal in many countries.
Cactuses and cooking
The fruit of many cactus species is juicy, sweet and sour, and for many centuries used as an ingredient in some national cuisines. The most famous is the fig-like fruit of the Opuntia Opuntia ficus-indica. Increasingly common are the Dragon Fruits, Hylocereus undatus from South-East Asia, whose juicy berries weigh up to a kilogram. In some high mountain regions of Bolivia, Neowerdermannia vorwerkii is used instead of potatoes. The Blue Candle (Myrtillocactus geometrizans) is characterised by its distinctive blue stem and fruit.
Agaves, cactus-like plants, are used for making the famous alcohol drink tequila.
We would like to thank the Friends of Cacti Society of Slovenia for their help.
The location of the cactus pavilion at Rogaška Slatina:
Rogaška Garden Centre
Cerovec pod Bočem 22a
3250 Rogaška Slatina
Rogaška Tourism Institution