Uebelmannia (2016)

PhotoBy Eric Driskill (October 2016)

Curt Backeberg and Otto Voll described Parodia gummifera in 1950. Seventeen years later, Albert Buining designated P. gummifera as U. gummifera of the genus Uebelmannia. The genus name honored Werner Uebelmann, a Swiss nursery man, whose financial support resulted in several South American cacti being introduced in cultivation.

The tribe to which this genus belongs is uncertain. It resided in the Notocacteae tribe until anatomical studies by Reto Nyffeler and DNA sequence work by Robert Wallace proved that designation wrong. Some authors currently list the genus in the Cereeae tribe.

The Uebelmannia genus currently consists of three species: U. buiningii, U. gummifera and U. pectinifera. All three species are found in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The plants are typically solitary and rarely branch. They grow up to 30 inches tall, but they don’t get there in a hurry.

The epidermis is smooth on U. gummifera and rough, bumpy and granular on U. buiningii and U. pectinifera. The epidermis tissue is bright green or waxy gray to dark purple.

The plants have many ribs and are lined with spines. U. pectinifera has a continuous line of spines that run the length of the ribs and resemble very short fine-tooth combs. The entire plant sometimes resembles a purple crown. Flowers on all species are yellow and under 1 inch wide.

Uebelmannia plants do best in a well-draining soil mix. They prefer full sun in the summer with some afternoon shade. In summer, the plants do best in warm, humid conditions and benefit from periodic misting. Going into winter, decrease watering.

Providing good light, light watering and a little extra heat during winter will increase your chances of enjoying your plant the following growing season. These plants are propagated by seed and sometimes grafted, since they can be prone to rot.