Parodia lenninghausii-Golden Ball, Lemon Ball, Yellow Tower

Parodia lenninghausii at 5 3/4″ tall x 2 1/4″ wide and 5 1/2″ tall x 2 1/8″ wide on 10-11-19, #639-77.

Golden Ball, Lemon Ball, Yellow Tower

Parodia lenninghausii

par-ROH-dee-uh  len-ning-HOW-see-eye
Synonyms of Parodia lenninghausii (13) (Last updated 12-23-20):  Echinocactus lenninghausii (F.Haage) K.Schum., Eriocactus lenninghausii (F.Haage) Backeb. ex Jul.Schäff., Eriocactus lenninghausii var. minor F.Ritter, Eriocephala lenninghausii (F.Haage) Backeb. ex Heinrich, Eriocephala lenninghausii f. apelii Heinrich, Eriocephala lenninghausii subsp. minor (F.Ritter) Guiggi, Malacocarpus lenninghausii (F.Haage) Britton & Rose, Notocactus lenninghausii (F.Haage) A.Berger, Notocactus lenninghausii f. apelii (Heinrich) Krainz, Notocactus lenninghausii f. cristatus P.V.Heath, Notocactus lenninghausii var. minor (F.Ritter) J.Theun., Parodia lenninghausii var. minor (F.Ritter) F.H.Brandt, Pilocereus lenninghausii F.Haage

Plants of the World Online lists Parodia lenninghausii (F.Haage) F.H.Brandt ex Eggli & Hofacker as the correct and accepted scientific name for this cactus. It was named and described as such by Urs Eggli and Andreas Hofacker in Novon in 2010 citing a previous description by Fred Hermann Brandt (correcting the misspelling). It was first named and described as Pilocereus lenninghausii by Ferdinand Friedrich Adolf Haage in Verzeichniss über Blumenzwiebeln in 1896.

To read “Validation of the Name Parodia lenninghausii (Cactaceae), with a Note on the Lectotypification and Orthography of the Name” by Urs Eggli and Andreas Hofacker, click HERE. You will be redirected to the Volume 20, pages 30-32, of the Bio Heritage Library page contributed by the Missouri Botanical Garden via The International Plant Names Index.

World Flora Online (and just about every other database and website) list Parodia leninghausii (F.Haage) F.H.Brandt as the accepted scientific name. It was named and described as such by Fred Hermann Brandt in Kakteen Orchideen Rundschau in 1982. This name was based on and using Pilocereus leninghausii F.Haage ex K.Schum. as the basionym. The name was apparently invalidly published and misspelled by Karl Moritz Schumann in Monatsschrift für Kakteenkunde in 1895… 

*Notice the difference between one and two “n’s” in the spelling of the name. I choose to use two “n’s”.

While many times when there are multiple scientific names for the same plant, the accepted name goes to the name first published. However, in this case, the first name was not validly published.

The genus, Parodia Speg., was named and described by Carlo Luigi (Carlos Luis) Spegazzini in Anales de la Sociedad Cientifica Argentina in 1923.

Plants of the World Online lists 63 species in the Parodia genus (as of 12-23-20 when I am updating this page). Parodia is a member of the plant family Cactaceae with 144 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.


Parodia lenninghausii-Golden Ball Cactus on 7-19-16, #274-53.

I bought several cacti from Wal-Mart on 2-1-16 a few days after I first noticed they had a shipment come in. The plants were still in the plastic sleeves they had come in and were soaking in water. When I went back a few days later to buy, they were STILL in the plastic sleeves and STILL soaking. I bought several cacti, as I said, but accidentally bought two of two different species, including the two Parodia lenninghausii. Actually, the label says Notocactus leninghausii which has been a synonym of Parodia leninghausii since 1982. The label says:

Notocactus leninghausii, native to Brazil and Paraguay, can grow to 2’ in height, forming clusters of semi-columnar stems covered with dense, harmless golden spines. Large lemon yellow flowers in summer. Protect from frost. Provide bright light. Hardy to 20 degrees F. To 3’ tall. Water thoroughly when soil is dry.”

The plants were in 4 oz. (2 1/2” diameter) pots and looked pretty good considering they were in a cold, wet environment. The smallest one measured 1 7/8” tall x 1 3/4” wide without the fuzz. Somehow I must have forgotten to measure the larger one. I usually take measurements of my cactus and succulents when I bring them home and at least once a year. Some grow so SSSSLLLLOOOOWWWW I like to measure them to see if they are actually growing.

As the story goes, botanist Karl Moritz Schumann named this species of cactus after Wilhelm Lenninghaus. Mr. Lenninghaus left Germany in the 1880’s and moved to Brazil where he became Guillermo Lenninghaus and collected cacti for the German grower Haage. Although Mr. Schumann is credited for naming this plant, the first scientific name given was Pilocereus leninghausii F. Haage ex Schum. in 1895 which indicates Schumann named the plant using a previous name and description by Ferdinand Friedrich Adolph Haage. Schumann apparently misspelled the name because F. Haage called it Pilocereus lenninghausii in the business catalog in 1896… It is obvious Mr. Haage named and described the plant before Schumann in 1895. Mr. Lenninghaus possibly started collecting for the Haage nursery before F. Haage took over the business from his father in 1888. 

Friedrich Adolph Haage (1796-1866) started a nursery in 1824. One of his sons, Gustav Ferdinand Haage (1830-1921) took over the business. Then, his son, Ferdinand Friedrich Adolph Haage 1859-1930) took over the business in 1888. Under his management, the nursery increasingly specialized in cactus, succulents, and seed growing and went international. The business was relocated where it is to this day. You can visit the Kakteen-Haage business website by clicking on the name. There is a lot of information on this website and you can read about the history of the company. You will have to use the Google translator because the history is in German…


Parodia lenninghausii on 5-31-17, #339-35.

Parodia lenninghausii is popular among cactus enthusiasts because of its glowing spines with a hairy appearance. They are native to Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil where it grows at elevations between about 985 to 4,265 (300-1300 meters). They grow in hilly grasslands and in the shade of larger plants where they tolerate a wide range of temperatures

Parodia lenninghausii, the taller one, on 8-29-17, #369-70.

Parodia lenninghausii start out as a small globe-shaped cactus becoming columnar growing up to 36″ in the wild. They produce good-sized yellow flowers approximately 2-2 1/2″ in diameter. Some information says they don’t produce flowers until they reach maturity and others say about 8″ tall or up to five years. The size of the pot has a lot to do with the size this species grows. Smaller pots keep them smaller and more manageable so they may flower at a smaller size.

Parodia lenninghausii has around 30 ribs. The areoles have both very short and thin radial spines and at least one very long central spine. The longer spines are more or less 1″ in length. The spines are not sharp at all so you can pet these guys if you want.

Parodia lenninghausii, the taller one, on 10-11-17, #382-52.

One last shot while the plants are still outside. The forecast was calling for cooler weather soI was preparing to bring the potted plants inside for the winter.

Parodia lenninghausii, the taller one at 4 3/4″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide on 10-17-17, #384-21.

I moved the potted plants to the basement on October 17 to get them ready for winter. Once I took photos and measurements, I moved them upstairs. I usually do all that outside but the weather wasn’t cooperative. The taller plant measured 4 3/4″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide including the spines.

Parodia lenninghausii, the smaller one at 3 3/4″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide on 10-17-17, #384-22.

The shorter developed a bit of a “hunch”. It measured 3 3/4″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide when I brought it inside.

Top view of the Parodia lenninghausii on 10-17-17, #384-23.

The Parodia lenninghausii is very interesting from the top…


Parodia lenninghausii, the shorter one, on 1-18-18, #401-11.

The Parodia lenninghausii is tolerating the winter inside. The shorter one stayed in front of a south-facing window.

Parodia leninghausii/P. lenninghausii, the taller one, on 1-18-18, #401-12.

While the taller one was sitting on the east-facing kitchen windowsill.

Parodia lenninghausii the Greater on 5-17-18, #443-71.

I have named them “Greater” and “Lesser” because one is a little taller than the other. They sometimes try to confuse me and tell me one had a growth spurt and one shrunk… So, when I call them by name they point to each other. Then their neighbors all start laughing so I know what is going on.

Parodia lenninghausii the Lesser on 5-18-18, #444-21.

Parodia lenninghausii can be pranksters because they were brought up not really knowing the correct spelling of their name or even which HAAGE actually named them. They seem to like making others laugh, even with their strange hairdo. I am glad this plant grew out of its hunchback. You can still see remains of hot glue stuck to its skin…

Parodia lenninghausii (Golden Ball Cactus), 7-29-18, #487-75.

Not only that, they will eventually have yellow flowers but tell me I have to wait for several years… I remind them at their rate of growth they will still be short. I asked them how old they were already, and they told me it was a secret. GEEZ!!! Then, of course, the other cactus kid them about me accidentally buying two of them.

Parodia lenninghausii the Greater at 5 1/2″ tall x 1 15/16″ wide on 10-10-18, #519-58.

I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 10 because the forecast was calling for an “F” in a few days and the nighttime temperatures were getting cooler. I usually measure the cactus and succulents when I bring them inside but somehow I only measured Greater. It measured 5 1/2″ tall x 1 15/16″ wide.

The pair of Parodia lenninghausii on 11-29-18, #534-31. Lessor on the right and Greater on the left.

November 29 was a nice spring-like day, so I took the cactus to the back porch for a photoshoot. I was working on a post to show the difference between the cactus in my collection. Hmmm… I just noticed I wrote Notocactus leninghausii on one label and Parodia lenninghausii on the other. GEEZ!

Parodia lenninghausii hairdo on 11-29-18, #534-32.

I always like their hairdo. It reminds me of Alfalfa’s hair on the old TV show called The Little Rascals (Our Gang).

Parodia lenninghausii close-up on 12-1-18, #535-23.

This cactus will produce AWESOME yellow flowers after it is five years or so old. One time I asked them how old they were and they said, “SECRET”…

Somehow I only measured Greater on October 10 so I went to do it again… They kept jiggling around and laughing! Maybe they are ticklish! GEEZ! Anyway, Lessor measured 4 5/8″ tall x 2″ in diameter and Greater measured 4 7/8″ tall x 1 7/8” in diameter (not including their spines). Then Lesser said, “Ummm… you forgot something.” I asked what? He said, “We have angled crowns so you have to make sure you measure from the tallest side.” I said, “Oh, yeah…” So I measured them again. HOLY CRAP! They are both 4 7/8″ tall now! Maybe the Lesser was standing on his toes… Then Greater said, “He was cheating when you measured his diameter.” I said, “How could he cheat about that?” Greater said, “He was pushing out his stomach.” I said, “Then maybe you were cheating on October 10 because you were 5 1/2″ tall then. Now you are 4 7/8″ tall.” He just smiled… GEEZ! OK, so they are both around 5″ tall x around 2″ diameter. Visually, one still looks smaller than the other. Greater’s pot is slightly larger and the soil is slightly higher than Lessors… Nuff said…


Parodia lenninghausii on 6-22-19, #593-39.

Once it was warm enough I moved all the potted plants to the front and back porches. Most of the cactus are on the back porch while most of the succulents are on the front porch.

Parodia lenninghausii on 6-22-19, #593-40.

I was fairly busy over the summer so I didn’t take as many photos as usual. Well, I was doing a lot of wildflower ID research… Despite a little neglect, all the plants did very well.

Parodia lenninghausii at 5 3/4″ tall x 2 1/4″ wide and 5 1/2″ tall x 2 1/8″ wide on 10-11-19, #639-77.

I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 11 because an “F was in the forecast”. As always, I took photos of all the potted plants and measured the cactus and some of the succulents. “Greater” (on the right) measured approximately 5 3/4″tall x 2 1/4″ wide and “Lesser” (left) measured 5 1/2″ tall x 2 1/8″ wide.

Parodia lenninghausii on 10-11-19, #639-78.

From the top.

Parodia lenninghausii on 10-11-19, #639-79.

While taking photos I noticed “Lesser” has two kids…


Parodia lenninghausii (Golden Barrel Cactus), both at 6″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-89.

I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 15 (2020) because an “F” was in the forecast. As always, I photographed and measured the cactus as I moved them inside. This time they both measured 6″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide. The one I called “Greater” in the orange pot was always taller than “Lessor” in the green pot.


Parodia lenninghausii (Golden Barrel Cactus) with kids on 10-15-20, #747-90.

Lessor had two kids last year who are growing. Now Greater also has one…

The Parodia lenninghausii is a great cactus to grow. I like the color and the long, soft spines. It is very easy to grow if you follow a few basic rules that most cactus require. According to some information, it likes a “short” dormant period over the winter months but I have had no problems treating it the same as the rest of the cactus in my collection.

Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Rio Grande Do Sul in southern Brazil 
*Zones: USDA Zones 9b-11b (25 to 40° F)
Size: 12-36″
*Light: Sun to part shade
**Soil: Fast-draining. Good potting soil amended pumice (50/50) or additional perlite and chicken grit (2-1-1).
***Water: Average during the growing period. Barely, if any, during winter.

*During the summer, I keep most of my cactus on the back deck where they receive full sun. During the winter most cactus aren’t picky about the light because they are basically dormant. For several winters, mine were in front of the east-facing sliding door in the dining room so they didn’t get much light but they did great. I built a new shelf for the bedroom so now they are in front of a west-facing window. Most of the succulents are on a shelf in a south-facing window in a cool bedroom but a few are in my bedroom.

**When it comes to potting soil, finding the “sweet spot” is not exactly that easy when materials are limited. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts (and experts) do not recommend using peat-based commercial mixes but what choice is there for most of us. They say to use a loam-based mix… Hmmm… Our soil is loam, so do I just use dirt? Well, no because “dirt” is heavy and you need a “light” material. There is A LOT of cactus and succulent recipes online and some get pretty elaborate. Many say to use sand as an ingredient, but if you do that, it needs to be very coarse, like builders sand, because “ordinary” sand, like for sandboxes, is too fine and it clogs up the air space between the coarser ingredients. For MANY years I used 2 parts Miracle Grow or Schultz Potting amended with an additional 1 part of perlite and 1 part chicken grit. Schultz doesn’t seem to have as many large pieces of bark. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts recommended using pumice instead of perlite and grit so I checked it out… The “guy” at General Pumice (online) recommended using a 50/50 mix of potting soil and pumice. General Pumice has 3 different sizes to choose from depending on the size of the pot. SO, in 2018 I bought a bag of 1/8″ and mixed it 50/50 with Miracle Grow Potting Soil. I liked it pretty well. Then in 2020, since most of the cactus were in larger pots, I ordered the 1/4″ size. Pumice has a lot of benefits over perlite and has nutrients that are added to the soil when watering. Pumice is also heavier so it stays mixed in the soil instead of “floating” to the top. Still, there is the issue of the mix getting very hard once you stop watering the plants during the winter when you stop watering. I think this is because of the peat in the potting soil… SO, instead of re-potting the cactus and succulents in the spring, I started doing it during the fall and winter so their soil would be loose. Since you don’t water as frequently during the winter if at all, the timed-release fertilizer does not activate. I have not tried coir, but I am looking into it… 

I think a lot of growing tips online are written by people who never grew succulents and cactus. They just copy from one website and paste it to theirs. You have to sort of mimic the soil where species grow in their native habitat. For that, you almost have to go see for yourself… Typically, they grow in fairly rocky soil.

***I water my cactus and succulents on a regular basis during the summer but barely ever in the winter (maybe a little in January) until close to time to take them back outside. 

You can read my Cactus Talk & Update and Cactus & Succulent Tips to get my opinion about growing cactus and succulents.

When you bring your new plants home from the store, you need to check their roots and the soil to see if they are wet. If so, you may want to re-pot it right away. It is advisable to re-pot them in a better potting soil more suitable for cactus and succulents.

I will continue adding more photos of these two cacti and more information as time goes by. The links below provide further information.

I have two other Parodia species in my small and growing collection of cactus and succulents. They are Parodia crassigibba and Parodia magnifica. You can click on their names to go to their page.

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. If you find any errors in the information, please let me know. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant. If you find that I made an error, please leave a comment or email me at

It is strange how you can read lots of information and believe it is true until you read something that proves everything you have been taught is wrong…

Llifle (Encyclopedia Of Living Forms)
Dave’s Garden

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