Christmas Cactus Facts
- Firstly, the most noteworthy attribute of the Christmas Cactus remains one that might surprise most people. Secondly, that attribute is the fact that this beautiful and distinctive plant typically actually blooms during the Christmas season.
- However, yet another interesting fact remains concerning this remarkable species. As a result of evolving in its particular habitat, this particular variety of cactus grows on trees or rock outcroppings.
- Furthermore, due to its tendency to bloom at Christmas, the genus has spread far beyond its endemic range. Rather understandably, it became quite popular as an ornamental plant, especially in gardens and as a houseplant.
- Finally, only 6 known species comprise this beautiful genus. Additionally, all of them inhabit the same highly restricted endemic habitat range. Sadly, its natural habitat remains vulnerable to climate change.
Christmas Cactus Physical Description
First of all, in its natural habitat, the magnificent Christmas Cactus takes the form of a rather large shrub. As a result, the thick, woody base of each plant attains an average height of about 4 ft (1.2 m). It also typically grows quite wide in relation to its height.
The stems typically resemble leaf-like pads and display a beautiful dark green color. Much as other cacti, the plant does not produce any leaves. Yet, the numerous flowers appear in large numbers and a wide range of colors. These include yellow, white, pink, red, orange, and even purple.
Furthermore, these beautiful blooms develop at either the tips or joints of the many stems. The small, delicate fruit also has a rather surprising fleshy consistency. Finally, the tiny black seeds of this amazing species measure less than 1 mm in size.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperm
- Class: Eudicots
- Order: Caryophyllales
- Family: Cactaceae
- Genus: Schlumbergera
Christmas Cactus Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
First of all, the spectacular Christmas Cactus occurs naturally in only one region of the world. That restricted range consists of the coastal mountains of southeastern Brazil, in South America. This specifically includes the states of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Espirito Santo.
In addition, even there it exhibits extreme selectivenes in its choice of habitat. That’s because, there the plant appears almost exclusively on either trees or rocks. In addition, these areas must also possess both shade and high humidity.
At the same time, it only grows at a select range of altitude. This covers elevations ranging between 2,300- 9,120 ft (700 – 2,780 m). But, it has an evolutionary reason for this selectivity. Its unique location provides it with warm, moist air, forced upwards to its location.
The amazing species also developed a unique dependency upon local bird species. Its tiny seeds do not release spontaneously when the fruit ripens, like many plants. Therefore, it generally relies upon the birds to spread them after consuming the fruit. However, the plants occasionally reproduce via vegetative propagation, as well.