Genus honouring Erich Werdermann (1892-1959), German botanist and director of the botanical museum and herbarium of Berlin (see picture above); “neo” because the genus Werdermannia had already been used to designate a Brassicaceae, minimum / maximum altitude range (m)
A genus of small low growing plants, globose flattened, solitary, with fasciculate or sturdy taproot, with ribs numerous but little marked, spiralled, divided into distinct tubercles. Areoles often sunken, situated near the tubercle tips. Central spines stiff, sometimes hooked, radial spines often curved, rather flexible.
Flowers diurnal, self-sterile, small, funnel-shaped, with a short floral tube, appearing at the top of the young tubercles, white to lilac pink, pollinated by bees. Fruits globose, sunken in the axils, smooth, reddish brown, dry, with lateral or apical dehiscence, floral remains persistent. Seeds ruminate, matt, blackish brown, retaining the remnants of the mucilage.
The plant is consumed by the local populations as vegetable.
The genus Neowerdermannia grows in the premountain range of the Andes, the altiplano, in a purely mineral, stony or sandy soil, often covered with mosses, from 2200 m up to 4330 m in altitude.
Argentina (Jujuy, Salta), Bolivia (Chuquisaca, La Paz, Oruro, Potosi), Chile (Arica, Tarapaca), Peru (Moquegua, Tacna).
Currently 2 recognised species plus one subspecies:
– Neowerdermannia chilensis* Backeb. 1936
– Neowerdermannia chilensis subsp. peruviana (Ritter) Ostolaza 1998
– Neowerdermannia vorwerkii* Fric 1930
References: "TAXONOMY of the CACTACEAE" - ISBN 978-84-617-3692-8 (Vol. 2)