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All the information and photos in cactus art files are now available also in the new the Enciclopedia of Cacti. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.

  Schlumbergera truncata
(Syn: Zigocactus truncatus)

Cultivation and Mail Sale
of Cacti and Succulents.


Photo & © copyright by Irwin Lightstone
Schlumbergera are soft stemmed & spineless cactus which blooms very profusely.


Description: Branching cascading epiphyte, with flattened joints. Height: 30 cm before weeping. Width: 30-45cm. The individual stem joints form arching, pendulous branches from whose tips hang satiny, many-petaled flowers.
Cladodes: Approx. 4.5 cm long,  2.5 cm broad, flattened leaf-like dark and glossy green with two teeth at the apex. and small 2-8 toothed (pointed), marginal notches,
Areoles: Almost spineless or with tiny brush-like spines and little felt. Terminal areole long and felty.
Flower: Zygomorphic, hooded, tubular 7-12 cm long, 4.5 cm red, pink, purple, or multicolored. Style purple. Ovary round. Receptacle 4 cm long. Blossoms at the stem joints as well as at the stem ends.
Blooming Period: From November through February. Flowering is triggered by short days and cool temperatures
Fruit: round, red.


Zygocactus hybrids (Christmas cactus):
 These hybrids, often cultivated as a houseplant, with their rather unique flower arrangement, have been in cultivation since early in the 1800s and have had surges of popularity. The term Zygocactus is the name predominant in the plant industry despite what the taxonomists have decreed are now Schlumbergera. There are many garden varieties, most of which are very beautiful. The greenhouse cultivars has salmon, orange, peach, coral, yellow, white pink or multicoloured  flowers.

Cultivation: Like the Poinsettia, it takes very little effort to get your Christmas cactus to flower at the right time. It requires ample summer water and partial shade, but allow soil to dry slightly between waterings; The Christmas cactus is a short day bloomer.  Remember that the shortening days of September and October are what trigger the flowering cycle. Allow also temperatures at night to drop slightly to induce flowering. During the flowering cycle, keep your Christmas cactus moist (but not soggy). After the blossoms have fallen off you should back off on the water for a couple of months. If it needs repotting, this is the time to do it. Christmas cacti won't want a normal cactus soil but will prefer to be in a soil containing sphagnum. This type of soil would normally be used for orchids, bromeliads or other epiphytic plants. The Shlumbergera drop their buds easily if they are moved. Once flower buds have formed, DO NOT MOVE the plant, as slight changes in environment may cause the buds to drop. These forest cacti tend to be long lived.

Propagation: Stem cuttings, Grafting (For grafting this plant Acanthocereus pentagonus is a good stock)


Photo gallery: Alphabetical listing of Cactus and Succulent pictures published in this site.





Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Scientific name:  Schlumbergera truncata (Haw) Moran
in: Gentes Herb. 8(4):329 (1953)

Origin:  Brazil, Rio de Janeiro (Serra do Mar and Serra dos Org„os),

Habitat & ecology: Native to the coastal forests and jungles at an altitude of 100-1500 m. In its native environment it is an epiphyte (occasionally lithophytic). In other words, these are cacti that grow in trees! They grow their roots into the bark of their host tree. Their only access to moisture and nutrients is from rain and droppings that fall from above. They also always grow under a canopy of trees and are never exposed to the full sun of the desert. The environment that these cacti have adapted to is that of the warm, humid jungle with sunlight filtered through the canopy of the forest. Little has been written of the variability of colour in the flower in the wild although one would assume that red predominates. The shape of the flowers suggests humming bird pollination and red is attractive to birds. The berry is mostly red attracting other birds to spread the seed to other areas.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

Common Names include: Christmas Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus or Crab Cactus,Zygocactus.



  • Epiphyllum truncatum Haw
    Supp. Pl. Succ. 85 (1819)
  • Cactus truncatus Lk
    Enum. Pl. 2:24 (1822)
  • Cereus truncatus DC Sweet
    Hort. Brit. 272 (1826)
  • Epiphyllum altensteinii Pfeiff
    Enum. Cact. 128 (1837)
  • Epiphyllum truncatum altensteinii Lem
    Cact. Gen. Nov. Spec. 76 (1839)
  • Epiphyllum purpurascens Lem
    Hort. Univ. 2:349 (1841)
  • Epiphyllum truncatum violaceum Morren
    Belg. Hort. 16:260 (1866)
  • Epiphyllum truncatum spectabile Morren
    Belg. Hort. 16:260 (1866)
  • Zygocactus truncatus K.Sch.
    Flora Bras. 4(2): 224 (1890)
  • Zygocactus altensteinii K. Sch.
    Flora Bras. 4(2): 225 (1890)
  • Epiphyllum delicatum N.E.Brown
    Gard. Chron. III 32: 411 (1902)
  • Epiphyllum delicatulum K.Sch.
    Monatschr. Kakt. 13:9 (1903)
  • Zygocactus delicatus Br&R 
    Contr. US Nat. Herb. 16:260 (1913)
  • Zygocactus truncatus delicatus (N.E.Brown) Backbg & Knuth (1935)
  • Zygocactus truncatus crenatus - Borg
    Cacti ed. 2, 420 (1951)
  • Schlumbergera truncata altensteinii (Pfeiff) Moran 
    Gent. Herb. 8(4):330 (1953)
  • Schlumbergera truncata delicata (N.E.Brown) Moran  
    Gent. Herb. 8(4):330 (1953)

Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art files are now available also in the new the Enciclopedia of Cacti. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.