Misunderstood and Misidentified Epiphytes

Rhipsalis come in many forms; some resemble Hatioria and Schlumbergera with pad-like stems to fulfill the function of leaves, and others are very similar to Aporocactus, or the Rat Tail Cactus.


There are many different plants in this genus; some of them you may know as ‘Mistletoe Cactus’ for their habit of growing in trees.

Unlike real mistletoe, they are not parasitic, but perch on top of the bark and get their nutrients from the water running down the tree.

Oddly, some sources claim that this plant, Rhipsalis baccifera, originated in the Old World (Europe) unlike the majority of the other members of the genus which originated in South America.

Various theories have been put forward for this, ranging from the possibility of it being used as a substitute for the real Mistletoe, or because migratory birds transfer the seeds.

There is no proof for either of these possibilities, leaving it a true mystery.

rhipsalis baccifera
Rhipsalis baccifera, the Mistletoe Cactus

Whichever one you have, they have similar cultivation requirements.

Keep these plants on the dry side through the winter, and then give them a summer of fairly frequent watering, and a holiday outdoors on a lanai or covered porch.

They require this treatment to set buds so they’ll bloom.

Keep in mind that many of these don’t grow in desert-like conditions, rather in the branches of trees where they get dappled shade, leaf compost to root into, and frequent rain showers.

rc Rhipsalis
Rhipsalis in bloom

Don’t let their looks deceive you – they don’t require hot and dry conditions, although they are perfectly adapted to withstand periodic drought.

Other similar plants are Schlumbergera and Epiphyllum.

Want More Pictures of Rhipsalis?

This board on Pinterest has a lot of different examples of this great genus:

Another very similar member of the same family, Hatiora, is often confused with Rhipsalis.

See more Rhipsalis pictures below…

Each link goes to another page about these fascinating plants…

download 23

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