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Origin and Habitat: Rhipsalis floccosa is a widespread and abundant species across South America with many subspecies. It occurs in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela. Subspecies floccosa grows in NE and SE Brazil. (Pernambuco, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais and São Paulo), where it is frequent; it is replaced by subspecies oreophila in the East Brazilian Highlands, and by subspecies pulvinigera in mountains and coastal zones of southeastern and southern Brazil. In eastern Paraguay and northeastern Argentina, it is replaced by subspecies hohenauensis. In the eastern Andes of Argentina, Bolivia and Peru (Junín), it is represented by subspecies tucumanensis. In northern Venezuela, it is replaced by subspecies pittieri.
Altitude range: Sea level to 1,750 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: This species is widespread in mesic and humid forests (both lowland and montane). It is epiphytic or epilithic (growing on rocks) in Mata atlântica, including mata de brejo and the eastern foot of the Chapada Diamantina (Bahia). The species also grows on trees in plantations and trees planted in urban areas. Although there are threats in parts of the range, these are not significant to warrant any concern. The population is stable and may even be increasing. It can be confused with Lepismium lumbricoides found in the same habitat, but it has many adventitious roots on the stems.
- Rhipsalis floccosa Salm-Dyck ex Pfeiff.
Rhipsalis floccosa Salm-Dyck ex Pfeiff.
Enum. Diagn. Cact. 134 1837.
- Rhipsalis floccosa Salm-Dyck ex Pfeiff.
Rhipsalis floccosa subs. hohenauensis (F.Ritter) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor
Bradleya 13: 57 1995.
- Rhipsalis floccosa subs. hohenauensis (F.Ritter) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor
Rhipsalis floccosa subs. oreophila N.P.Taylor & Zappi
Cactaceae Consensus Init. Init. 6: 7, nom. nov. 1998
- Rhipsalis floccosa subs. oreophila N.P.Taylor & Zappi
Rhipsalis floccosa subs. pittieri (Britton & Rose) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor
Bradleya 13: 55 (1995)
- Rhipsalis floccosa subs. pittieri (Britton & Rose) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor
Rhipsalis floccosa subs. pulvinigera (G.Lindb.) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor
Bradleya 13: 55 (1995):
- Rhipsalis floccosa subs. pulvinigera (G.Lindb.) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor
Rhipsalis floccosa subs. tucumanensis (F.A.C.Weber) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor
Bradleya 13: 57 (1995)
- Rhipsalis floccosa subs. tucumanensis (F.A.C.Weber) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor
SPANISH (Español): guasca-guasca, huasca-huasca
Description: Rhipsalis floccosa is an epiphytic or lithophytic perennial cactus, at first erect, becoming pendent, up to 1 metre long or more, by 50 cm in spread. The stems are thin, leaf1ess, unarmed, cylindrical, dull greyish-green, 5-6 mm across, and branching less than many other Rhipsalis species. The growth is determinate, branching is strictly acrotonic, that is to say that it prefer to send sap to buds near the top of the plant. The plant thus grows upwards, and low side branches naturally prune. It has masses of greenish white to very pale pink flowers in early summer, then pinkish-white fruits. It is a variable species divided into slightly differing geographical forms or subspecies, (previously described as species under different names). Six subspecies are recognized, the nominate form, subsp. hohenauensis (F.Ritter) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor, subsp. oreophila N.P.Taylor & Zappi, subsp. pittieri (Britton & Rose) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor , subsp. pulvinigera (G. Lindb.) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor and subsp. tucumanensis (F.A.C.Weber) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor.
Derivation of specific name: Latin 'Floccosus (-a, -um)'. Having wool-like tufts.
Stem: Base woody up to 1.2 cm in diameter. Segments slender, alternate, round in cross section, to angled especially when the branches are dry, often with raised podaria subtending the scale leaves, 4-25(-35) cm long, 5 to 8(-10) mm in diameter, erect at first, becoming pendent, green to dull grey-green but sometimes tinged with red or purple near the areoles. Seedlings and juvenile plants with angled, conspicuously areolate bristly joints.
Areoles: Sunken, woolly felted, without bristles.
Flowers: Flower-buds solitary from sunken areoles near the stem apices but never terminal rupturing the surface and surrounded by a tuft of wool. Flowers c. 8 mm long, 6-15(-20) mm broad, greenish white to creamy white, at times tinged with reddish, surrounded by abundant creamy white. Ovary sunken in the branch, 2.5-3 × 3-3.5 mm, obconic, naked, greenish brown. Perianth-segments 12-15, more of less erect, margins fimbriate, outermost 3-3.5 mm long, 4 mm broad, spathulate, greenish white tipped brownish, inner segments 5-6 mm long, 3-3,5 mm wide, ovate, white. Stamens c. 40 about 2 mm long, anthers 0.4 mm long. Style ca. 3.5 mm long, stigma-lobes 4, about 1 mm long, exceeding anthers, whitish.
Blooming season: Winter to early summer.
Fruits (berries): Globose to turbinate-globose, 5-10 mm in diameter, nearly white or tinged pinkish-red at apex, somewhat translucent, with or without erect, light brown perianth remains.
Seeds: c. 1.2 × 0.7 mm, smooth, dark brown to black.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Rhipsalis floccosa group
- Rhipsalis floccosa Salm-Dyck ex Pfeiff.: (subsp. floccosa) has green stems, rather small greenish white flowers to 12 mm across, and white fruits. Distribution: NE and SE Brazil.
- Rhipsalis floccosa subs. hohenauensis (F.Ritter) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor: has golden yellow flowers and white fruits. Distribution: E Paraguay, Argentina, and S Brazil.
- Rhipsalis floccosa subs. oreophila N.P.Taylor & Zappi: has cylindrical stem segments with no tubercles, and very small flowers. Distribution: highlands of central Bahia and N Minas Gerais, Brazil.
- Rhipsalis floccosa subs. pittieri (Britton & Rose) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor: has more slender stem segments, and smaller flowers and fruits. Distribution: Venezuela.
- Rhipsalis floccosa subs. pulvinigera (G.Lindb.) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor: has stem segments tinged red, larger flowers that maybe more than 18 mm in diameter, and pinkish fruits. SE and S Brazil.
- Rhipsalis floccosa subs. tucumanensis (F.A.C.Weber) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor: is similar to subsp. pulvinigera but has green stems, and larger red or white fruits to 10 mm in diameter. E Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) 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]
2) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
3) Nassar J.M., Velázquez G., Romero-Briceño J.C. and Medina E. 2013. “Las cactáceas como elementos de caracterización de ambientes áridos y semiáridos en Venezuela.” In: Medina E., Huber O. and Nassar J.M. (eds), “Recorriendo el paisaje vegetal de Venezuela: Un homenaje a Volkmar Vareschi,” Ediciones IVIC, Caracas.
4) Taylor, N.P. & Zappi, D. 2013. Rhipsalis floccosa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T46525A3008368. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T46525A3008368.en. Downloaded on 13 April 2016.
5) 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 August 2011
6) Hunt, D., Taylor, N. and Charles, G. “The New Cactus Lexicon”. dh Books, Milborne Port, UK. . 2006.
7) B. L. Stannard “Flora of the Pico Das Almas: Chapada Diamantina - Bahia, Brazil” Royal Botanic Gardens, 1995
8) Stanley Bamford Whitehead, Walter Page Wright “Everyman's encyclopaedia of gardening” Dent, 1970
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