Epiphyllum anguliger

Epiphytic Cactus Species Overview

by Linda Sinkovic

Some people have never heard of epiphytic cacti. People might think there is no such thing -- cacti growing in forest trees? Everyone knows cacti only grow in deserts, right?

Epiphytic cacti do indeed exist. Some are grown as indoor plants -- or even outdoors -- even by those people who doubt cacti would grow in a forest. So let's set the record straight -- Christmas cacti (and other holiday cacti) and hybrid epicacti (commonly known as “epiphyllum”) really are cacti. And though they are hybrids, their wild ancestors still grow in trees in subtropical and tropical forests.

Interested in a very brief overview of these epiphytic cacti species?

First, let's talk about the ancestors of the hybrids known collectively as “Holiday Cactus".
Whether “Christmas Cactus” or “Thanksgiving Cactus” -- there is really no difference -- these are hybridized from species in the genus Schlumbergera, which occur in the forested mountains of southeastern Brazil.

Next, the commonly grown “Easter Cactus” is a hybrid derived from species in the
Rhipsalidopsis genus, which is also found in the forested mountains of southeastern Brazil.The closely-related genus Hatiora is found in the same area.