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Accepted Scientific Name: Parodia maassii (Heese) A.Berger
Kakteen (Berger) 344. 1929 (Often mispelled: maassi, masii, masi, massii or massi) (A.Berger)
Origin and Habitat: Cieneguillas, Paicho Valley, and adjacent areas, Tarija, Bolivia
Altitude: 2600-3700(-4000) metres above sea level.
Habitat: Steep slopes, gravelly hills and flat rocky areas
- Parodia maxima F.Ritter
Parodia maassii (Heese) A.Berger
Kakteen (Berger) 344. 1929 (Often mispelled: maassi, masii, masi, massii or massi)
- Parodia maassii (Heese) A.Berger
- Bolivicactus maassii (Heese) Doweld
- Echinocactus maassii Heese
- Malacocarpus maassii (Heese) Britton & Rose
- Parodia belliata F.H.Brandt
- Parodia bermejoensis F.H.Brandt
- Parodia camargensis Buining & F.Ritter
- Parodia castanea (F.Ritter) F.Ritter
- Parodia escayachensis (Vaupel) Backeb.
- Parodia haageana F.H.Brandt
- Parodia knizei F.H.Brandt
- Parodia koehresiana F.H.Brandt
- Parodia lamprospina F.H.Brandt
- Parodia maassii f. cristata hort.
- Parodia maxima F.Ritter
- Parodia commutans var. maxima (F.Ritter)
- Parodia maassii var. commutans f. maxima (F.Ritter) Don & G.D.Rowley
- Parodia maxima f. cristata hort.
- Parodia mendeziana F.H.Brandt
- Parodia obtusa F.Ritter
- Parodia obtusa var. atochana F.H.Brandt
- Parodia obtusa subs. atochana F.H.Brandt
- Parodia otaviana Cárdenas
- Parodia suprema F.Ritter
- Parodia thieleana F.H.Brandt
Description: Parodia maxima is one of the innumerable form of Parodia maassii which is one of the most widespread and morphologically variable taxon. It is a small globular cactus distinguished from the type species for its longer cream to straw-yellow hooked spines and yellow flowers and, as its name suggests, this is one of the largest forms, which in time will make an impressive plant for the show bench. The names Parodia maxima is not accepted by many botanists that treat it as synonym, but it still has a value for a collector because they identify plants with particular characters.
Habit: Solitary cactus (unless injured) until very old age, or with few branches from ground level when old.
Stem: The plant presents an extended spherical stem, mid-green to intense green in colour, 15 cm wide, with the apical part densely covered with white wool.
Ribs: 13- 21, chinned and arranged in spiral.
Areoles: Big and woolly at first, but they become naked with age.
Spines: Curved, dense, and variably coloured.
Radial spines: 8-10 (or more). Usually yellowish or amber at first and white later, 5-10 mm. long, opened on the outside and a little curved inwardly.
Central spines: 1-4 (or more), strong, up to 7 cm long brown and go upwards. In older parts they become greysh, and go downwards.
Flowers: Funnel-shaped, large coppery-red, carmine or red, 3 (or more) cm across.
Blooming season: Spring and summer, they usually appear one by one in succession.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Parodia maassii group
- Parodia maassii (Heese) A.Berger: has globular stems with long hooked spines and yellow to red flowers. It is extremely variable. Distribution: Southern Bolivia and Northern Argentina.
- Parodia maassii f. cristata hort.: The crested form is very rare, and particularly sought after for its armament of long hooked spines. There are several clones with variable spination.
- Parodia maxima F.Ritter: has larger stems, longer creamy-yellow hooked central spines (up to 7 cm long) and yellow flowers. Distribution: Cieneguillas, Paicho Valley, and adjacent areas, Tarija, Bolivia
- Parodia maxima f. cristata hort.: it is a robust crested form with long creamy-yellow hooked central spines.
- Parodia suprema F.Ritter: has longer brown hooked central spines (up to 7 cm long) and red flowers. Distribution: Paichu-valley, Sama Pass to Iscayachi, Tarija, Bolivia.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass” Cambridge University Press, 11/Aug./2011
2) David Hunt, Nigel Taylor “The New Cactus Lexicon” DH Books, 2006
3) Edward F. Anderson “The Cactus Family” Timber Press, 2001
Cultivation and Propagation: Parodia maxima is relatively easy to grow on its own roots and quite resistant to cultivation. The only things that can kill this plant are cold and overwatering. Nevertheless, it is appropriate to provide adequate growing conditions in order to obtain compact plant with many flowers.
Soil: Use a an open and free draining mineral compost with little organic matter (peat, humus) that allows therefore roots to breath (as it is rot prone). Outdoors a well-draining rocky or sandy soil is ideal.
Pots: It needs a relatively shallow pot to accommodate its fibrous roots and provide a very good drainage. It may stay in the same pot for many years.
Watering: Regular water in summer. Keep rather dry in winter, except for a quick, periodic misting on warmer days in late winter. It rots easily if the substrate is wet and cold, and tends to lose its roots in winter.
Fertilization: Fertilize with a low nitrogen fertilizer every 6 to 8 weeks, from mid-spring to late summer.
Hardiness: Keep dry at 5- 10° C in winter, but can tolerate sporadic light frost if kept on the dry side prior to, and during, cold weather.
Exposition: The plant tolerates very bright situations, if kept too dark they may become overly lush and greener and could be prone to rotting due to over watering. Strong light encourages flowering and heavy wool and spine production, but is likely to suffer from sun scorch or stunted growth if over exposed to direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day in summer. If your climate is warm enough to grow this plant outside, be sure that soil is well drained and sun if full, but with protection from strong mid-day rays.
Pests & diseases: It may be attractive to a variety of insects, but plants in good condition should be nearly pest-free, particularly if they are grown in a mineral potting-mix, with good exposure and ventilation. Nonetheless, watch carefully for any significant decline in health. This may signal a pest problem that should be dealt with quickly in order to prevent scarring, stunting and even death.
- Red spiders: Red spiders may be effectively rubbed up by watering or misting the plants from above.
- Mealy bugs: Mealy bugs occasionally develop aerial into the new growth among the leaves with disfiguring results, but the worst types develop underground on the roots and are invisible except by their effects. Eliminate mealybug infestations by dabbing the critters with cotton swabs dipped in alcohol or by soaking the succulent's roots in a systemic insecticide.
- Scales: Scales are rarely a problem.
- Rot: This species is particularly easy and accommodating, seldom suffer of cryptogamic diseases. Rot it is only a minor problem with cacti if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. If they are not, fungicides won't help all that much.
Propagation: By Seeds. The seeds of this plant are extremely small, and must be sown on the surface of the germination substrate (not buried!!) But the seedlings after germination are so minuscule and delicate that it is quite problematic to keep them alive. So for this species one usually uses the baggy germination technique (in a sterilized pot hermetically closed in a plastic bag.
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