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Parodia mammulosa (Tom Thumb Cactus)


Scientific Name

Parodia mammulosa (Lem.) N.P. Taylor

Common Names

Tom Thumb Cactus, Tom Thumb, Lemon Ball Cactus, Lemon Ball


Parodia mammulosa subsp. mammulosa, Echinocactus mammulosus (basionym), Echinocactus floricomus, Echinocactus hypocrateriformis, Echinocactus submammulosus, Malacocarpus mammulosus, Notocactus cristatoides, Notocactus erythracanthus, Notocactus floricomus, Notocactus hypocrateriformis, Notocactus macambarensis, Notocactus mammulosus, Notocactus megalanthus, Notocactus paulus, Notocactus ritterianus, Notocactus roseoluteus, Notocactus submammulosus, Parodia submammulosa, Ritterocactus mammulosus, Ritterocactus megalanthus

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Notocacteae
Genus: Parodia


Parodia mammulosa is a perennial globose cactus up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, with a flattened apex and a dark green surface. It has 18 vertical ribs with large pointed tubercles. The radial spines are about 12, needle-like, up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long, while the single central spine is up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) long. The flowers pale pink to golden yellow, up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter and appear in spring.

Parodia mammulosa (Tom Thumb Cactus)

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USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

If you can grow cacti and succulents successfully, you can likely grow the popular Parodia without too much trouble. It is key to remember, however, that Parodias don't like direct sunlight and are accustomed to more even water than many other cacti species. It is imperative that the cactus is not exposed to prolonged dampness and sitting water. Never let your cactus sit in a dish of water. To encourage better flowering, allow the plants to enjoy a cooling period in the winter and dramatically cut back watering. Unlike other cacti species, however, you don't need to entirely stop watering. Lastly, make sure to fertilize during the growing season for the best results.

Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot Parodia, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you repot… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Parodia


Parodia mammulosa is native to ArgentinaBrazil, and Uruguay.


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