Uebelmannia was described in 1967 by Albert Buining, honoring a Swiss nurseryman, Werner Uebelmann, who had introduced many interesting South American cacti into cultivation through his financial support. Buining designated Parodia gummifera (= U. gummifera) as the type of the genus, the plant coming from Brazil but not seeming to belong in Parodia, the genus into which Curt Backeberg and Otto Voll had placed it when they described the species in 1950.
Uebelmannia has usually been placed in the tribe Noto-cacteae, but anatomical studies by Reto Nyffeler (1997b, 1998) and DNA sequence work by Robert Wallace (pers. comm.) clearly indicate that Uebelmannia does not belong there. It is unclear, however, to which tribe it belongs; it is treated here as in the tribe Cereeae. The three species of Uebelmannia are characterized as having solitary, globose or cylindrical stems that are distinctly ribbed and spiny. The epidermis of some species is granular or covered with wax platelets, resulting in an almost scurfy appearance. Uebelmannia pectinifera, for example, has unusually elongated vertical hypodermal cells that cause the stem surface to be very bumpy, almost like a cobblestone street (Gibson and Nobel 1986,128). The yellow flowers, open during the day in summer, are quite small, usually less than 25 mm (1 in) in diameter. Uebelmannia has proven to be somewhat difficult to propagate, often being slow to establish. All species are uncommon and are victims of extensive collecting from the wild. Rudolf Schulz and Marlon Machado (2000) have written a book on the genus.
Subfamily Cactoideae, tribe Cereeae. Plants solitary, almost never branched. Stems mostly small, globose to cylindrical, to 75 cm (30 in) high; epidermis smooth, papillate, granular, orwith waxy plates. Ribs numerous, usually sharp, sometimes divided into tubercles. Areoles usually with well-developed spines. Spines 2-7, straight or slightly curved, erect to spreading to comblike. Flowers borne subapically, open duringthe day, small, short funnelform, yellow; areoles of peri-carpels and floral tubes with dense wool and a few bristles. Fruits globose to cylindrical, yellowor red, berrylike, with wool and bristles near the tip but naked below, thin walled and dry at maturity, without floral remains. Seeds cap shaped, glossy black to reddish brown, wrinkled to tuberculate to smooth. Distribution: MinasGerals, Brazil.
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