Parodia chrysacanthion is native to Argentina, where it’s endemic of Jujuy. An endemic species of an animal or a plant is a species whose habitat is restricted to a certain place. Though P. chrysacanthion can be found in nature only in Jujuy, it is not threatened with extinction and it’s listed in the appendix 2 of CITES convention. This is an international agreement between governments, whose aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild plants does not threaten the survival of the species. The appendix 2 lists “all species which, although not necessarily now threatened with extinction, may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation”. This means that Parodia chrysacanthion is not actually threatened with extinction: its population seems, in fact, stable and has many subpopulations. Due to its high decorative potential, the only threaten to this cacti in its natural habitat comes from collection. P. chrysacanthion grows on volcanic rocks in forests, at altitudes between 500 and 2500 meters above the sea level.
Parodia chrysacanthion is a globular cactus, getting elongated and more columnar with age. Its abundant, dense yellow spines have earned it its common name, “Golden Powder Puff”. This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, which is a long-established annual award for plants by the British Royal Horticultural Society, based on assessment of plants’ performance under UK growing conditions. This plant usually consists in a single stem, globose and with a central rounded depression, turning more elongated and columnar-like as the plant ages, but never exceeding 12 centimeters in height and 10 in width. The stem is much ribbed and coverd in abundant spines, around 30 to 40 for each areole, golden yellow to whitish, not hooked but pointing in all direction to form an intricate, golden layer that hides completely the stem underneath. We remind, as always, that the areoles are the typical buds of cacti, from which the thorns are formed. If the stem was visible, you would have noticed the spiral arrangement of the ribs and the numerous tubercles on them, but all this remains actually completely hidden by the intricate spines.
In spring, the upper part of the stem becomes adorned with many yellow, beautiful flowers. Usually, the plant gets to produce up to eleven flowers during one blooming, though they could be even more in cultivated plants; they are bright yellow, bell-shaped, 3 centimeters long and 2 in width, with their tube equipped with bristles and woolly hairs. Sometimes, the blossoming is so abundant and flowers are so crowded that they form one, big, apical, yellow, circolar tuft, like a huge, yellow flower. When blooming season approaches its end, flowers become small, fleshy fruits, hosting brown to black seeds.
Put your P. chrysacanthion exposed to direct sunlight, sheltering it from midday rays in summer.
This cacti is deemed to tolerate rigid temperatures (down to -4ºC), if its substrate is maintained completely dry. However, to stay safe, we suggest to put it indoors or, at least, to shelter it during the Winter. It’s fundamental, also, if you choose to grow it outdoors, to protect it from winter rains.
Water regularly during spring and summer, around once a week, always waiting for the soil to dry up completely before each irrigation. Unlike other cacti, however, P. chrysacanthion needs a quick, perioding misting in warmer days of late Winter because, if it’s maintained completely dry for a long period, it ends up to loose its root.
Choose a well-draining substrate, such as a potting mix specifically suited for cacti.
Fertilize once a year with a product specific for succulents during the growth season, diluting half the doses recommended on the label with watering. Make sure that the product you’re using is poor in Nitrogen, because this element can cause abnormal growth and fragility in tissues.
Repotting is seldom necessary, because this plant is a slow-grower. Once every two-three years will be okay.
Propagation of P. chrysacanthion is usually carried out through seeds, though they aren’t easy: sometimes, the germination can take up to two years to happen! In most cases, though, the required time is shorter: from a few weeks to a few months. The seeds can be sown in pots of light, well-drained sandy soil, during the spring when temperatures are warm. Cover the pot with a light glass or plastic sheet to create a kind of greenhouse effect, and keep the substrate moist until most of the seeds germinate. Keep them in light-shaded spot, somehow bright but from indirect light. From when most of the seeds have germinated on, mistings can be reduced to once every two or three days as the little plants grow.
The genus “Parodia”, that groups species formely belonging to other genera such as Notocactus, Eriocactus and Wigginsia, is named after Domingo Parodi, one of the early investigators of the flora of Paraguay. The species name “Chrysacanthion”, instead comes from the greek words “chrysos”, meaning “gold” and d Greek “akanthion”, that’s for “small spine”, small thorn; refers to the colour of the dense fine spination.
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