Cacti and Succulents

Our cacti and succulent Collection can be found throughout the Gardens but most particularly in the Cape Triangle Lawn, Guilfoyle's Volcano and the Arid Garden. These fantastic plants demonstrate the adaptive traits plants have evolved to survive and indeed thrive in water scarcity, as demonstrated during the Millennium Drought and with Melbourne's ongoing climate change.

This Collection is important as it:

  • Demonstrates the evolutionary adaptations of low-water plants.
  • Preserves the character and history of Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.
  • Displays the ornamental diversity of this plant group.

Resin spurge
Euphorbia resinifera

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Mexican lime cactus 
Ferocactus pilosus

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Golden Barrel Cactus

Echinocactus grusonii

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Old Man of the Mountain

Oreocereus celsianus

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Wooly Torch

Cleistocactus strausii

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Resin spurge<br /><em>Euphorbia resinifera</em>

A dense succulent shrub forming multi-stemmed cushion-shaped clumps up to 2m wide and 60cm tall. As with all Euphorbias it exudes a thick milky, latex-like sap when damaged. Euphorbia resinfera is the most toxic euphorbia and touching its sap can cause your skin to burn, swell, blister.

Notes from the Curator

My first encounter with the Arid Garden was back in 1995. I was studying visual arts at Ballarat University and had visited the Botanic Gardens while on a field trip to the National Gallery. I can clearly remember walking into the Arid garden and being blown away by these incredibly strange, almost alien plants. Obviously visual arts did not work out and I have now been curating the Arid collection for close to 20 years. I love the unique adaptions these plants have developed in order to survive in such harsh conditions. The recent redevelopment of the Arid garden has certainly been a career highlight with many new, mature, wild collected cacti species being introduced. My favourite time to visit the Arid garden is early morning. Many of the night flowering cacti are still in full bloom and the sun shining through the different coloured cacti spines create an incredible halo effect. The fact that I still get that feeling I felt in 1995 when I walk into the Arid garden is testament to the uniqueness of this collection.