Cacti of the month (Dec. 2007) Schlumbergera truncata

A more in depth look at individual cactus species, a new one is added each month -managed by Hob
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Cacti of the month (Dec. 2007) Schlumbergera truncata

Post by templegatejohn »

Schlumbergera truncata (Haw.) Moran


Growth Habits: Not everyone’s idea of how a cacti should look but nevertheless is one. Characteristically, the plant that is the true Christmas Cactus has branches which are decidedly arcing and pendent and the stem segments (phylloclades) do not have the little points along the sides. The flowers are completely pendent and radially symmetrical (actinomorphic), with no distinct bend between the tube and the ovary.

Scientific name: Schlumbergera truncata

Common names: False Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus, Crab Cactus and many others.

Synonym: Epiphyllum truncatum, Cactus truncatus, Cereus truncatus, Zygocactus truncatus, Epiphyllum altensteinii, Zygocactus altensteinii, Epiphyllum ruckeri, Epiphyllum bridgesii, Epiphyllum delicatum, Zygocactus delicatum

Etymology: Schlumbergera: For Frederick Schlumberger, a cactus collector. Truncata is from the Latin adjective truncatus meaning “cut off, truncated” (The specific name implies: "squarely cut off" )

Origin: Brazil and other parts of South America

The plants like dappled or light shade

Compost: The roots of these jungle cacti must be properly aerated or they will rot, so it is essential to use an open soil of about two or three parts coarse organic materials, incorporating some loam to provide trace elements, and one part coarse minerals like aquarium gravel and/or perlite. These cacti like a slightly acidic soil if at all possible.

Water: Watering should always be thorough, it is not a good idea to water until the soil has become just moist.

Flower: The true Christmas Cactus has the same colour as the photograph, but there are so many hybrids that produce different colours.

Min. temp:
These plants like the heat so 55°F (12°C) is about the lowest safe temperature for them.

The true "Christmas Cactus" is Schlumbergera x buckleyi, a hybrid between S. russelliana and S. truncata produced in the late 1840s by William Buckley at the Rollisson Nurseries in England.

The plants are epiphytes and grow in the jungle, usually in the branches of trees, where they hang like beads

Comments: Because both Thanksgiving and Christmas Cactus bloom twice each year, between October and February, then again between March and May, many people tend to confuse them with Easter Cactus. The Easter Cactus is Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri . In some respects it is superficially similar to Schlumbergera. However, it blooms only once each year, in April (about Easter) and its flower is very different.