Christmas Cactus Facts
- The most noteworthy attribute of the Christmas Cactus is the fact that this beautiful and distinctive plant typically blooms during the Christmas season.
- Another interesting fact is that as a result of evolving in their particular habitat, these cacti grow on trees or rock outcroppings.
- Due to their tendency to bloom at Christmas, the genus has spread far beyond its endemic range. It became quite popular as an ornamental plant, especially in gardens and as a houseplant.
- Only 6 known species comprise this beautiful genus, and all of them inhabit the same highly restricted endemic habitat range. Their natural habitat remains vulnerable to climate change.
Christmas Cactus Physical Description
In their 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 approximately 4 ft (1.2 m).
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.
These develop at either the tips or joints of the many stems. The small, delicate fruit has a fleshy consistency, and the tiny black seeds measure less than 1 mm in size.
Christmas Cactus Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
First of all, the spectacular Christmas Cactus occurs naturally in only one region, the coastal mountains of southeastern Brazil. This specifically includes the states of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Espirito Santo. There, the plant appears on either trees or rocks, in areas that possess both shade and high humidity.
At the same time, they only grow at elevations ranging between 2,30- 9,120 ft ( 700-2,780 m). Their unique location provides them with warm, moist air, forced upwards to their location.
They have also developed a unique dependency upon local bird species. Their seeds do not release spontaneously when the fruit ripens and generally rely upon the birds to spread them after consuming the fruit.
However, the plants occasionally reproduce via vegetative propagation, as well.