About the ESA

First meeting of the ESA May 5, 1940

Foundation and Purpose of the Epiphyllum Society of America

In 1940, epiphyllums were a relatively unknown species; were carried by only a few nurseries, expensive and collected by relatively few people. Hybridizing was being performed and the different Nurseries and individuals were naming new varieties. It was inevitable that the same name was sometimes given to more than one variety.

On May 5, 1940, a group of collectors and nursery people got together to form a rather exclusive group known as the ‘Epiphyllum Society of America’ (or 'ESA'). As the years passed, the ESA decided that the exclusive nature of the Society no longer made sense, so it became an organization open to all who were interested in these beautiful and exotic flowers.

The mission of the ESA is to promote interest in and culture of these beautiful, exotic flowers. To further that goal, we conduct monthly membership meetings, publish a quarterly newsletter for our members, and conduct an annual show. For more information about membership in the society, please visit the "Membership" page.

A major purpose of this society was to generate a list of the various names; both to prevent the same name from being used more than once and to generate a directory of which nursery had a particular variety. The listing has significant information and a large number of later registrations, and is known today as the Registry of Hybrids and Species. The names of some of the founders live on in still collected flowers listed in the Registry such as 'Wegener's Pet' and 'Pete's Snowflake'.

The most important event in the history of the Epiphyllum Society of America took place at the end of July 1998. The International Society for Horticulture Science [ISHS] appointed the ESA the International Registration Authority [IRA] for the epiphytic cacti hybrids of the Hylocereeae Tribe. The appointment effectively legitimized fifty-eight years of ESA work as de facto registrar. Since most readers are probably not familiar with the concept of an IRA, here is a helpful quote from the Cultivated Plant Code. "The primary functions of an IRA are:

  • (a.) To register cultivar and cultivar-group epithets in the denomination class for which they have accepted responsibility and to ensure their establishment;
  • (b.) To publish full lists of all cultivar and cultivar-group epithets in that denomination class;
  • (c.) To maintain records, in as great a detail as is practical, of the origin, characteristics and history of each cultivar and cultivar-group in that denomination class.

It is NOT the function of an IRA:

  • (a.) To conduct trials;
  • (b.) To judge if one cultivar or cultivar-group is more meritorious or more useful than another;
  • (c.) To judge distinctness of cultivars or cultivar-groups."

The Code provides guidelines for a system that works. The ESA's success as IRA is everyone's success. We rely on the goodwill and wholehearted cooperation and support of epiphyllum enthusiasts everywhere.

For more information about the Epiphyllum Registry, please see the "Registry" page.