Mexico has the richest variety of cacti in the world as well as a great diversity of species of other succulent families, with their strange forms and surprising colors. However, until recently these plants have been little known or appreciated except by botanists and cactophiles. Many are considered rare, threatened or in danger of extinction, due, as in other parts of the world, to changes in land use, urban expansion and illegal collecting and trafficking for the international collectors market.  
    For the botanical garden El Charco del Ingenio, the conservation of the natural and genetic heritage represented by these species is one of its primary objectives, its mission. For that reason, we took on the task of gathering a collection of Mexican succulents from different plant families in order to showcase our endangered biodiversity. The inspiration for and to a large extent the accomplishment of this work was carried out by the well-known cactophile Charles Glass, curator of the botanical garden until his death in 1998.

His valuable contribution has been enriched through further years by other researchers and lovers of the succulent Mexican flora who have approached El Charco, as the San Miguel born Mario Mendoza, who assisted Glass during the crucial years of the field collecting campaigns and stills keeps an intimate relation with this outstanding vegetal world. And as a prime character, the British Martin Smith, who carried out a meticulous and long work of restoration and organization of the botanical collection, plus designing new areas of exhibition with the main support of Martita García.
  Today, most of the botanical collection consists of plants gathered over the years from all parts of the country and carefully identified, along with others propagated in the nursery at the garden, plus a number of donated plants. This extensive work of collection has meant building links with rural communities as well as scientific institutions, and a close relationship with the Mexican environmental agency (SEMARNAT) which has recognized the Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden as the legal depositary for the collection.  
  The botanical collection at El Charco del Ingenio represents above all the richness and biodiversity at risk in our country, and it is exhibited different areas of the garden - in the Conservatory of Mexican Plants (the spacious original greenhouse that also houses aquatic plant species and fish native to this region) as well as in the Area of Rescued Plants, on the western side of the garden.

In addition to being protected and exhibited, this magnificent collection constitutes the genetic base for propagation in the nursery of the Charco, mainly focused to species in some risk status. This vegetal conservation activity takes place as a permanent program according to the Botanic Gardens’ Global Strategy for Conservation, endorsed by our organization in 2007. Some specimens produced at the nursery are for sale at the reception of El Charco.
    Foto Patricia Lagarde, Historias de un Jardín charco del ingenio Ed. Santillana  
  The collection is made up primarily of the family Cactaceae, along with other families of succulent plants, mainly Crassulaceae, Bromeliaceae y Agavaceae.