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What is Parodia?

By Soo Owens
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Parodia is a genus of the plant family Cactoideae, or cacti. The sizes and shapes may vary, but typically Parodia begin as smaller, spherical cacti, with some species possessing the capability of developing into somewhat taller, cylindrically shaped ones. There are over 50 different species included in the Parodia genus.

The genus is named after Argentine Biologist Lorenzo Parodi. Parodia are native to certain areas of South America. They can be found in Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina.

Parodia are covered in spines. Their outer spherical surface is usually ribbed, from each of which sprouts a set of thorns. It is possible for some Parodia species to grow in height, but this is not their standard behavior. An average sized Parodia will have a diameter of 4 inches (10 cm) and possess a globose figure.

The former Notocactus genus was merged with Parodia in the late 1980s. The International Organization for Succulent Plant Studies eliminated the Notocactus genus and began classifying the species formerly under Notocactus with those of Parodia. This was completed against much opposition, though the two genera were often grouped together prior to the official merge.

The Parodia arnostiana is an example of a former Notocactus species. Arnostiana are known for producing bright yellow flowers. They are a small species, 1.5 to 2.5 inches (4 to 6 cm) tall and about 1.5 to 3 inches (4 to 8 cm) in diameter. These cacti are native to Brazil.

Another former Notocactus is the rare Parodia Buiningii. The buiningii is spherical, like the other Parodia, and sprouts a vibrant yellow flower which, due to the brightness of the color, often appears nearly white. It has pink or magenta accentuation. Instead of the spiraling ribbed formation of the other species, the buiningii has thin columns rising longitudinally up the cactus' body with spines sprouting from very small areoles.

A common choice for houseplant selection, the Parodia leninghausii species possesses harmless spines and grows yellow flowers as an adult. They are commonly referred to as Lemon Ball or Yellow Tower cacti. This particular species is susceptible to increased longitudinal growth, beginning its life like other Parodia as a small spherical plant and growing up to 3 feet (about 1 meter) in height.

Parodia are a popular choice for cactus gardening enthusiasts. Like most cacti they require minimal maintenance, though more than some other types of cacti. The key to proper care is not to over-nurture the cacti. They should be watered sparingly from spring through fall and will usually require little to no hydration throughout the winter months. It is suggested that natural rainwater be collected and used to water Parodia. More water is required when flowering, and the cacti must be kept in direct sunlight in a dry environment.

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