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Origin and Habitat: Rhipsalis burchellii has a fairly wide range in south-eastern and southern Brazil in the states of São Paulo, Espírito Santo, Paraná and Santa Catarina.
Altitude: It occurs at elevations up to 900 m above sea level.
Habitat: This epiphytic cactus grows in seasonal Atlantic forests. There is gradual reduction in the extent of forest due to agricultural and urban expansion, but not to the same degree as in the northern Atlantic forest areas where a substantial part of its presumed former habitat appears to have been destroyed by industrial pollution. The species seems to be reasonably common based on the number of collections and places where it occurs.
Rhipsalis burchellii Britton & Rose
Cactaceae (Britton & Rose) 4: 255 1923
- Rhipsalis burchellii Britton & Rose
- Erythrorhipsalis burchellii (Britton & Rose) Volgin
- Rhipsalis cribrata (Lem.) Rümpler
ENGLISH: Mistletoe Cactus, Mistletoe
Description: Rhipsalis burchellii is a much-branched perennial epiphytic plant from Brazil forming whorls of thread-like, delicate hanging branches. The cream-coloured flowers, followed by pink berries, hang loosely at branches' tips.
Stems: Cylindrical, smooth, very weak, slender, much branched and hardly succulent. The growth is determinate and the branching usually dichotomous. Primary branches to 60 cm long, terminal branch-segments 4 to 10 cm long, 1-2 mm in diameter, light green to purplish.
Areoles: Stem areoles, wooly, bristles absent. Apical composite flowering areoles at segments' tips.
Flowers: Subterminal, campanulate, often numerous, 10 to 15 mm long whitish to creamy.
Fruit (Berries): Turbinate, pale pink, rose-coloured, brilliant reddish magenta or purplish magenta.
Remarks: It is difficult to distinguish from the widespread and common orange-fruited Rhipsalis campos-portoana, if fruit colour details are lacking.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Sara Oldfield “Cactus and Succulent Plants: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan” IUCN, 01/gen/1997
2) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
3) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey "The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass" Cambridge University Press, 11/Aug/2011
4) David R Hunt; Nigel P Taylor; Graham Charles; International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
5) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton: “Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names” Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg 2010
6) N. L. Britton, J. N. Rose: “The Cactaceae. Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family.” Volume 4, The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington 4: 7. 1923 [24 Dec 1923]
7) Clive Innes “Complete Handbook of Cacti and Succulents” Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 01/dic/1981
8) Keith Grantham, Paul Klaassen “The plantfinder's guide to cacti & other succulents” Timber Press, 18/mag/1999
9) 9) Taylor, N.P. & Zappi, D. 2013. Rhipsalis burchellii. In: IUCN 2013. “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.” Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 April 2014.
Cultivation and Propagation: Rhipsalis burchellii is among the easiest to cultivate epiphytic cacti and tolerates neglect. These forest cacti tend to be long lived.
Exposure: This plant (as with all Rhipsalis) prefers partial shade.
Watering: It requires ample summer water (more than other cacti), but allow soil to dry slightly between waterings.
Soil: These cacti won't want a normal cactus soil but will prefer to be in a soil largely composed of organic material, such as peat or sphagnum moss, This type of soil would normally be used for orchids, bromeliads or other epiphytic plants.
These forest cacti tend to be long lived.
Hardiness: Frost tender. It needs night-time temperatures no cooler than 5° C, especially in the winter.
Special requirements: These plants bloom profusely if grown in an even, high temperature, but significantly less if the temperature fluctuates between 4°C and 18°C. They 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.
Propagation: Stem cuttings.
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