We certainly hope that you enjoy these Sensational Christmas Namesakes of the World as much as we do. Some represent plants, while others represent invertebrates. However, all of them will amaze you in some way. Each has its own beauty, charm, and/or uniqueness. But, each of them has one thing in common; having Christmas as part of its common name. The reason for this varies, of course, but every reason is a fascinating one.
Christmas Cactus Facts
- First up on this list of Sensational Christmas Namesakes of the World is one that remains a bit of a prickly subject, the Christmas Cactus.
- Firstly, the most noteworthy attribute of the species 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.
Christmas Tree Worm
Christmas Tree Worm Facts
- Next up among our selection of Sensational Christmas Namesakes of the World is the magnificent Christmas Tree Worm.
- First of all, the amazing creature really stands out from its many related species. The creature remains a particularly fascinating specimen of a tube-building polychaete worm, for a specific reason. Its common name derives from its obvious resemblance to a Christmas tree.
- Furthermore, while it holds no importance to commercial fishing, it nevertheless has its own popularity with many people. Quite understandably, it remains popular with at least two categories of individuals. That group consists of divers and underwater photographers.
- In addition, this species possesses both male and female genders, unlike some of its relatives. The animal reproduces by releasing eggs and spermatozoa directly into the water. These combine at random while being carried by the ocean currents.
Christmas Tree Worm Physical Description
Most notably, while gorgeous, the marvelous Christmas Tree Worm nevertheless remains a very small creature. That holds true due to the fact that adults average roughly 1.5 in (3.8 cm) in width. Additionally, it displays no noticeable degree of sexual dimorphism.
Furthermore, the radioles of the magnificent species form two spirals wrapping around its tube. However, these remain more than just mere decoration. That’s because each serves a vital role in both feeding and respiration.
Additionally, these natural features usually appear bright in color. These colors commonly include blue, yellow, orange, and white. But, only the portion of the tube presenting these brilliantly colored parts remains visible. The rest of the body stays protected within its tube.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Annelida
- Class: Polychaeta
- Order: Canalipalpata
- Family: Serpulidae
- Genus: Spirobranchus
- Species: S. giganteus
Christmas Tree Worm Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
First of all, the stunning and unique Christmas Tree Worm has an extremely wide distribution. That’s because the marvelous little lives in most tropical oceans. In fact, it appears from the Indo-Pacific region to the Caribbean.
Yet, within that range it exhibits notable preferences in its choice of habitats. This animal most commonly inhabits coral reefs. It secretes a calcareous tube around its body which serves as both protection and home.
Typically, individuals also dig a hole in the coral reef before secreting the tube. This effectively provides the animal with a double layer of protection. This obviously makes the Christmas Tree Worm a completely sedentary creature.
These creatures also seem to be extremely sensitive to disturbances in the water. When noticing such an occurrence, it withdraws into its tube rapidly at even the slightest provocation. However, most also typically re-emerge slowly a few moments later.
The species feeds as a filter feeder. The brilliantly colored radioles filter microorganisms out of the water. These then get fed directly into the animal’s digestive system. It in turn, however, has very few natural predators.
Christmas Heliconia Facts
- Placing third among these Sensational Christmas Namesakes of the World is the awesome plant known by the common name of the Cristmas Heliconia.
- First of all, the quite gorgeous plant derives its name from its appearance and time of blooming. This amazing fact holds true because the beauty typically blooms around the Christmas season.
- In addition, the timing combines with its rather beautiful red and white flowers to generate a marvelous characteristic. Quite understandably, these two factors directly led to its common name.
- Rather unfortunately, however, the IUCN also recently classified the Christmas Heliconia as Vulnerable. This status occurs due to the fact that most of its natural habitat has now been converted to farmland.
- Furthermore, the species now appears to also be rather rare in the wild. However, it also remains extremely popular as a garden or ornamental plant. Therefore, for the moment, its future seems fairly bright.
- We sincerely hope that its popularity serves to prevent its complete extinction as a species. However, fears also exist that the species will soon be extinct in its natural environment. The primary threats it faces there include habitat loss and climate change.
Christmas Heliconia Physical Description
Perhaps the most notable fact about the gorgeous Christmas Heliconia remains that it evolved as a tropical species. Furthermore, despite its seemingly sturdy construction, botanists classify the species as a delicate perennial.
The plants themselves typically grow relatively large, compared to related species. That’s because individual specimens attain a height of between 6-8 ft (1.8-2.4 m). Also, the foliage appears as evergreen, and the leaves typically have a rather leathery texture.
Further, the most commonly produced color combination remains the primarily red and white. This pattern represents the one for which it remains best known, even today. However, other colors also appear occasionally, including yellow and orange.
The natural wonder also distinguishes itself in yet another manner. This holds true due to the fact that in the wild, the Christmas Heliconia reproduces via seeds alone. Yet, in cultivation, it also reproduces via root propagation, increasing its versatility.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Monocots
- Order: Zingiberales
- Family: Heliconiceae
- Genus: Heliconia
- Species: H. angusta
Christmas Heliconia Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Not surprisingly, the magnificent Christmas Heliconia evolved as endemic to a decidedly warm and lush environment. In fact, it only appears naturally in a rather restricted portion of southeastern Brazil, in South America.
As one might expect, in its native environment, the plant typically inhabits regions of the lush tropical forest. Much like the majority of related species, this marvelous plant variety grows best in the warm, moist conditions found there.
Yet, individual plants nevertheless often appear to be rather adaptable to varying conditions. That’s because most specimens also grow well in either full sun or shade. Further, the majority of plants produce the now famous flowers.
This species also plays an important role in its native habitat. There, it quite frequently serves as a shelter for numerous types of bats native to the region. It also serves as a major food source for many varieties of hummingbirds.
Christmas Beetle Facts
- Our next choice for inclusion among our Sensational Christmas namesakes of the World is the gorgeous little Christmas Beetle.
- Most notably, the wonderful invertebrate represents another of those wonderful coincidences in Nature, due to certain characteristics of its life cycle. Furthermore, it ranks as a comparatively large species of beetle. This fabulous insect also classifies as a type of scarab beetle.
- The name principally derives from its tendency to gather in swarms in the greatest numbers at around the time of Christmas. But, the brilliant coloring of a few of the different species aided in this as well.
- However, the name does not apply to a single species. That’s because people apply the same common name to all members of a specific genus. Entomologists currently place a total of 35 species presently in that genus. Thankfully, none of these presently show on the IUCN Red List.
- In addition, the various species of insect known by the common name has a protracted period of activity. Although most active around the aforementioned time of year, it also appears throughout the summer as well, albeit in smaller numbers.
- Finally, these often display a great versatility in choice of habitat. That’s because many species inhabit both rural and urban areas indiscriminately. In both regions, observers report it to be a noisy and clumsy flier.
Christmas Beetle Physical Description
First of all, the term Christmas Beetle applies to a large number of separate species. Therefore, physical differences obviously exist between the various members of the group. However, certain basic physical characteristics exist throughout the genus.
Firstly, overall the various members of this amazing group rank as relatively large types of beetles. That holds true due to the fact that the separate species attain average maximum lengths that range from 0.79 – 1.2 in (20 – 30 mm). Yet, none of these arthropods display any noticeable degree of sexual dimorphism.
However, the different forms of Christmas Beetle do vary in terms of appearance. That’s because these display differing patterns of color. The majority of them present an overall color consisting of either dark or light brown. But, a few species display the dazzling shades of iridescent green or greenish-yellow that helped earned the genus its common name.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Coleoptera
- Family: Scarabaeidae
- Genus: Anoplognathus
Christmas Beetle Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Firstly, all of the different members of the genus collectively known as the Christmas Beetle all inhabit either of two regions. These two regions of the world consist of the continent of Australia, and the country of South Africa.
Furthermore, all of them live in the same general type of environment. The larvae of this arthropod live underground. These feed on decaying vegetation and various plant roots. Of these, it appears to prefer endemic grasses but will also feed on local lawns, pastures, and even crops.
At the height of its swarming, this can pose a significant threat to local farmers, as well as to the lawns of homeowners. The larvae of the Christmas Beetle, regardless of individual species, move to the surface in early spring and emerge as adults a few weeks later.
Typically, this mass emergence begins following the spring storms common to the local habitat. This softens the ground, making the emergence of the horde of insects easier. Among adults, the preferred food appears to be eucalyptus leaves.
- The next species appearing in this compendium of Sensational Christmas Namesakes of the World is one that literally embodies the cheery mood of the season, the Christmas Cheer.
- First of all, it must be pointed out that the breathtaking plant did not technically evolve. That holds true due to the fact that this stunning, and delicate looking plant represents a hybrid rhododendron variety.
- However, its origins do nothing to diminish its wondrous visual appeal. Regardless of where it came from, it now constitutes a living species, worthy of its place in the environment of our world. But, you obviously will not find it growing in the wild.
- Further, a minor mystery surrounds this natural beauty. That’s because experts have only been able to identify one of the two species that crossbred to produce it. The one recognized parent species is the R. caucasium, which originated in the region of northeast Turkey, in Asia.
- Finally, its appealing common name derives from its blooming patterns. This amazing beauty remains an extremely popular ornamental plant, for the obvious reason. Yet its most appealing quality remains the fact that, in parts of the world, it blooms around the time of Christmas. This, therefore, serves as the source of its name.
Christmas Cheer Physical Description
Most notably, the gorgeous Christmas Cheer easily earns its common name, given its magnificent visual appeal. Further, it technically represents a medium-sized example of a woody shrub. That’s because this plant attains an average maximum size of 6 ft (1.83 m) in both height and width.
Its multiple blooms appear at the ends of long, think stalks. Furthermore, its foliage grows thick, with numerous leaves having a dark green coloring on the top. However, and rather surprisingly, these also appear a light brown on the underside.
But its flowers serve as the most remarkable feature of this lovely evergreen. It produces numerous groupings of these, usually in clusters of eight blooms each. These develop as a funnel shape, measuring roughly 2 in (5 cm) in width. These also appear in a magnificent shade of pink.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Eudicots
- Order: Ericales
- Family: Ericaceae
- Genus: Rhododendron
- Species: Rhododendron “Christmas Cheer”
Christmas Cheer Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Firstly, since it represents a hybrid species, the Christmas Cheer does not actually have an endemic range. Rather, it has a specific range of climates in which it best thrives. These range from temperate to tropical. Secondly, in fact, its adaptability to several habitat types forms part of its appeal to gardeners, both private and professional.
Despite its lush nature, this stunning woody shrub possesses remarkable drought tolerance, within reason. It also prospers equally well in both areas of moderate shade and direct sunlight. Further, though it appears delicate, it has the ability to survive temperatures as low as -10 F (-23 C).
In addition, much like its close relatives, the azaleas, it also plays an important role in its local ecological system. That’s because the natural marvel strongly attracts numerous species. These include birds, hummingbirds, and butterflies with its strongly aromatic blooms.
However, it does harbor one potentially dangerous secret. Mirroring many of its relatives, the azaleas, this wonder of Nature remains quite poisonous. Although certain parts of the plant obviously contain more toxins than others, all parts of the surprising beauty rank as extremely dangerous if ingested.
Sensational Christmas Namesakes of the World
We truly hope that you have enjoyed this article about Sensational Christmas Namesakes of the World. These amazing species may have many differences, but they all share the trait of fascinating us. Sadly, some of them now find themselves facing the threat of potential extinction. Let us do all that we can to protect and preserve them, to protect them, for themselves, and for our own posterity to enjoy and appreciate.