Today there are basically two large international organizations conducting research and conservation on succulent plants:

  • International Organization for Succulent Plant Study (IOS)
  • Sociedad Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Cactáceas y otras Suculentas (SLCCS)
    ( Latin American and Caribbean Society of Cactaceae and Other Succulents )

The IOS: In 1947 the Swiss gardener and cactus expert Hans Krainz (1906–1980) dealt with the idea of uniting existing national cacti organizations (for example, the German Cactus Society, the Austrian Cactus Society, and the Swiss Cactus Society) under a single umbrella organization, the European Cactus Society, while maintaining their independence. However, a first call, which had been sent by him at the end of 1947, found no resonance, just after the end of World War II.
In spring of 1950, a letter signed by Hans Krainz, Franz Buxbaum (A) and H. Michael Roan (GB) was sent by the Board of Trustees of the Scientific Fund of the Swiss Cactus Society to about 50 well-known succulent researchers and other botanists, which invited to the 1st International Congress of Succulent Researchers for 27. September 1950. The participants in this congress agreed in just a few days on a statute on which basis the IOS was founded on 30 September 1950 with the aim “to promote the study and conservation of succulent and allied plants and to encourage international co-operation amongst those interested in them".

The Organization reached significant internationality at the 3rd IOS Congress 1955 in London with the accession of 15 members from non-European countries. From 1984 until 1998, the members met annually with the introduction of Inter-Congresses. In these years the reports in the IOS Bulletins show high productivity, an active participation, and a challenging academic program. In 1994, the number of members reached an all time high of 239. Around the turn of the century, IOS seems to have lost its drive and drifted into a ‘crisis of meaning’. The membership began began to decrease considerably.

In a somewhat unfriendly takeover of the IOS Board in 2006, the new Secretary, Dr David Hunt, attempted a revival of IOS. For some time the membership increased slightly again to about 160 - on paper. However, Hunt’s endeavour for gaining, maintaining, extending and securing his exclusive control over the IOS and its financial resources, his refusal to unclose financial documents even to members of the IOS Executive Board, and the oppression of a free election for the Executive Board 2014-2016, eventually led to the demand of a worried group of members to immediately exclude Dr Hunt from the IOS for his continued acts against the interest of IOS, the IOS Statutes and the IOS Code of Conduct.

With the support of the President of the IOS, Hunt remained in the position of Secretary, which resulted in great loss of (mainly continental European) members. The time-honored IOS continues to exist in elitist seclusion at the brink of irrelevance.

Many see the survival of the IOS in a move "back to the roots": As an European Organization for Succulent Plant Research (EOS), as originally envisaged by Hans Krainz. This way, today's IOS could become a valuable partner on an equal footing, for example, with the modern-run Latin American and Caribbean Society of Cactaceae and Other Succulents, which has similar goals. A division of tasks between researchers in the homelands of succulent plants and researchers in Europe, focussing more on conservation and well-maintained and documented living collections, could be of benefit for both sides and lead to significant synergy effects and cost savings in joint projects. Considering that mainly European plant collectors have explored the habitats of cacti and other succulents over a long period of time (not seldom causing damage), a repatriation program of species in vitro could be considered to areas where populations have been lost.

The Latin American and Caribbean Society of Cactus and Other Succulents was founded in 1989 and the official statutes were approved in Havana, Cuba, on the V. Latin American Congress of Botany in 1990. The mission of the SLCCS is to encourage and stimulate scientific research on cacti and other succulents in Latin America and the Caribbean, support initiatives for the conservation of these plants, disseminate the information generated from the studies carried out and contribute to the professional training of people interested in acquiring basic and applied knowledge about cacti and other Succulents.
To fulfill this mission, SLCCS sets the following objectives:

  • Involve people interested in the study and conservation of cacti and other succulents in Latin America in the activities of the Society, through the membership program.
  • Encourage the creation of national representations of the Society in each Latin American country.
  • Conduct periodic organizational meetings of the members of the Society.
  • Disseminate scientific information and general interest about these plants throughout Latin America.
  • Support local initiatives focused on the study and conservation of these plants.
  • Encourage the creation of botanical gardens and protected areas dedicated to the care and propagation of these plants.
Since September 2004, SLCCS has been offering a public electronic newsletter (Boletín), which is a very practical mass communication channel among people interested in the study and cultivation of cacti and other succulents in Latin America and elsewhere. Regrettably, this excellent service had to be temporarily suspended in 2013 due to staff shortages.


Austrocylindropuntia shaferi, San Lucas, Chuquisaca, Bolivia       ©I&R Mecklenburg

Austrocylindropuntia shaferi
San Lucas, Chuquisaca, Bolivia       ©I&R Mecklenburg

Lobivia bertraminiana, Iscayachi, Tarija, Bolivia  ©I&R Mecklenburg

Lobivia bertraminiana
Iscayachi, Tarija, Bolivia  ©I&R Mecklenburg

Echinopsis schickendantzii (Trichocereus shaferi), Chuquisaca, Bolivia  ©I&R Mecklenburg

Echinopsis schickendantzii (Trichocereus shaferi)
Chuquisaca, Bolivia  ©I&R Mecklenburg

Espostoa guentheri, Nuevo Mundo, Santa Cruz, Bolivia       ©I&R Mecklenburg

Espostoa guentheri
Nuevo Mundo, Santa Cruz, Bolivia       ©I&R Mecklenburg