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Plant Highlight: Parodia warasii

July 2010

Parodia is a South American genus of cacti, occurring in southern Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina.  Typically they are globose, though some elongate into short cylinders over time.  The flowers emerge near the apex of the plant, and are often very showy.  Yellow is the most common flower color, though some species have flowers in other colors (orange, pink, red or green).

Parodia warasii is a solitary-growing species from the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil.  Young specimens are spherical, but eventually they grow into a cylinder up to 2 feet tall.  Plants have 15 or more ribs running vertically down the plant body, with deep grooves between them.  The ribs are lined with closely-spaced areoles, each with a cluster of bristly brownish-yellow spines.  The large, pale-yellow flowers appear in summer, opening at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in July and August.

This species, like other members of the genus, is a summer grower.  Plants should be watered periodically through the warm season.  Parodia warasii prefers filtered light or half-day sun, rather than being exposed to the full brunt of the sun all day.  It has been growing at the garden for many years, though its position with tree branches overhead gives it some protection from cold spells.