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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

March, 2008 - Volume 3, No. 3

OUR MISSION: To protect and preserve our natural heritage and help build an environmental cutlure while developing a Botanical Garden dedicated to Mexican flora and providing an oasis for peace and tranquility for all.

Please tell your friends and prospective members/supporters how to access the newsletter and help broaden the base of support for the Botanical Garden.

Constructed Wetland in Parque Landeta
back on track….

After months of postponement, we are happy to announce that the State Commission of Water has restarted work on this important project.  The newly hired construction company is following the recommendations of experts presented by the Botanical Garden, especially concerning the change in the substrata bed composition and the selection of plant species to stabilize it.  As you can see in the photo, 40cm of large, round rocks have been replaced with a fine layer of volcanic rock and sand where wetland species will be planted.  If this work can be completed by the end of March, there will only be a few additional efforts to make the treatment plant operational before the rains begin.  At last!

constructed wetland

A cactus that doesn’t appear to be a cactus

by Martin Smith

El Charco is currently working on an exchange of plant material between ourselves and the Botanical Garden of the National University (UNAM) in Mexico City.


  In exchange for some parts of our collection for use in various research projects, we will receive cuttings from their extensive collection of the cactus genus Pereskiopsi. These are interesting plants, which at first sight do not resemble cacti, as they have thin, barely succulent stems and quite large, persistent leaves. Look more closely however, and you will notice the spines which are characteristic of cacti as well as the distinctive features of the flowers. What these plants represent is a stage in the evolution of cacti, adapting to deserts which formed around 65 million years ago, by developing bodies that store water, and reduced their leaves to avoid water loss.  In the most evolved forms, we see cacti that are spherical, or that grow as thick columns, but some, which grow in less arid areas were able to survive with less extreme adaptations. So we find plants like Pereskiopsis, which have retained what are thought of as primitive features for a cactus, retaining large leaves and not very juicy stems. However, they also show some of the most sophisticated features of the family such as areoles, which are in fact highly reduced branches, and spines, which are modified leaves on those branches.

Spring Equinox Concert in the Canyon, March 20th, 5p.m.

As is customary every year, El Charco celebrates this festival of the Sun, offering music to the flourishing Earth. S ince the equinox this year falls on Holy Thursday, we will have a program of sacred music of San Miguel composers of the 19th century. The musicians will be led by Francisco Mota, accompanied by a children’s choir from the Oratorio. Traditionally played in several churches of San Miguel during Easter week, this music will be heard for the first time in a natural setting with wonderful acoustics.

Come with friends and enjoy an hour of magnificent music in a spectacular setting. We suggest you come early -and bring a hat and cushion.



Admission: 60 pesos, 30 pesos for members and students, children under 10 are free. To avoid line ups, tickets will be sold at the front entrance of the garden a few days before the event.

What's blooming ...

cactus flower


photos by Wayne Colony


Although the rains have not yet begun, some cacti and trees are in bloom already. The Opuntias (nopales, prickly pears), many of the smaller native cacti, mesquites, jara amarilla (yellow flowered shrub), Euphorbia radians (flor de tierra) are waiting for your attention. No need to wait for the rainy season. And speaking of flowering...

The "walk/talk" series
continues this month on March 27th with Walter Meagher presenting on early bloomers. There will be a slide presentation of Wayne Colony's beautiful photos and Walter will explain why these plants are flowering now. There will also be the "walk" part to see the actual plants. Cost for members is 70 pesos and 100p for non-members. The presentation will start at 9:30a.m. Please reserve a space at

cactus flowers

Visitor Services
Don’t forget to stop by the new store and the juice bar on your next visit.  A reminder that the Conservatory is open an extra hour now (from 9a.m.-5p.m.) for your convenience.

A Well Attended Lunar Eclipse at El Charco

As in the past during astronomical events, more than 300 people of various backgrounds were united the evening of February 20th when a total lunar eclipse could be seen in all its magnificence from the Plaza of Four Winds. The Science Camp team organized activities and set up telescopes to explain this stellar phenomenon mostly to the young people in attendance (although many adults learned lots, too) with the enthusiastic participation of Phyllis Burton Pitluga, a retired astronomer living in our city.

The monthly full moon ceremony took place at the same time and people joined around the bonfire while enjoying punch. 




Friday, March 21 at sunset

luna llena


We invite everyone to this open celebration that has been taking place for many years during the full moon cycle at the Four Winds Plaza in the Botanical Garden. It’s worth arriving a little early to admire the setting of the sun and the appearance of the moon over the mountains. We recommend bringing a coat and a musical instrument if you wish. Admission is 30 pesos, free for members.

Friday, March 14th, 8:00p.m.
Saturday, March 15th at 10am

This relaxing steam bath is a ritual of healing and purification and is available every month for both men and women. Bring bathing suits and towels. It takes place in the ruins of an old hacienda, under the moonlight, across the dam from El Charco’s reception area. The mixture of heat, humidity and scented plants and herbs is a purifying experience for mind and spirit. Its benefits are many: it activates blood circulation, increases natural body defenses, eliminates odors, relaxes muscles, helps keep the nervous system in good shape, stimulates breathing and is excellent for weight loss. 250 pesos, space is limited so please call for reservations or information 154 88 38, 154 4715, cell 01 443 10 3 3019 or in El Charco’s main office.


temazcal exterior

temazcal interior

You can make a difference - Please volunteer

And you can make a difference with your contribution - volunteer or donate. We appreciate your support!! Please contact Naomi at

E-mail any comments or questions to the Editor at




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