Notocactus magnificus (2008)

PhotoBy Chris Deem (February 2008)

Brazil is the largest country in South America. The vastness of it hangs in the air like soft whispers in Portuguese. The great expanse of the Amazon rainforest is an interesting contrast to the cosmopolitan people in Rio de Janeiro.

In the southernmost part of the country, in Rio Grande do Sul, you can still hear the whispers of uebelmannias from Minas Gerais, but this is the home of another. This is the home of Notocactus magnificus.

Here in Rio Grande do Sul, the weather is warm and humid much of the year, but winter brings its own cool reprieve. Now is the time to walk in the mountains. Here you will see both the larger blue-green cacti and the smaller, greener cacti with their longer golden spines. Growing near a river, the smaller cacti grow in abundance, offsetting easily in small, golden clumps.

In Rio Grande do Sul, time passes in a gentle way. Spring and summer will soon return, and with them the summer grasses. In the warm sunshine, the cacti will bloom again, rich yellow flowers perching high on the soft green globes.

Notocactus magnificus must be one of the most recognized and most beloved of all the parodia cacti. They do well in bright locations in their growing season, but remember to protect them from excesive sun exposure, for they can scorch easily.

Gentle is the word to remember in their care. Keep them in a warm, sunny window in the winter, and water them now and again. Remember, they can lose their delicate roots if they are kept dry for too long.