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Epiphyllum oxypetalum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Hylocereeae
Genus: Epiphyllum

About 19 species, see text.


Phyllocactus Link
Phyllocereus Miq.[1]

Epiphyllum (/ˌɛpɪˈfɪləm/;[2] "upon the leaf" in Greek) is a genus of 19 species of epiphytic plants in the cactus family (Cactaceae), native to Central America. Common names for these species include climbing cacti, orchid cacti and leaf cacti, though the latter also refers to the genus Pereskia.

The stems are broad and flat, 1–5 cm broad, 3–5 mm thick, usually with lobed edges. The flowers are large, 8–16 cm diameter, white to red, with numerous petals. The fruit is edible, very similar to the pitaya fruit from the closely related genus Hylocereus, though not so large, being only 3–4 cm long. The broad-leaved epiphyllum (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) is particularly well-known. It bears large, strongly fragrant flowers that bloom for a single night only.

The plants known as epiphyllum hybrids, epiphyllums or just epis, which are widely grown for their flowers, are artificial hybrids of species within the tribe Hylocereeae, particularly species of Disocactus, Pseudorhipsalis and Selenicereus. In spite of the common name, Epiphyllum species are less often involved as parents of Epiphyllum hybrids.[3]

Extant species[edit]

Image Scientific name Distribution
Epiphyllum anguliger 2007-10-18 flowering IMG 4642 EDIT.jpg Epiphyllum anguliger (Lem.) G.Don Mexico
Epiphyllum baueri.jpg Epiphyllum baueri Colombia, Panama
Epiphyllum cartagense Costa Rica, Panama
Epiphyllum crenatum 'Chichicastenango' 2.jpg Epiphyllum crenatum Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvadore, Honduras
Epiphyllum chrysocardium
Epiphyllum columbiense
Epiphyllum costaricense
Epiphyllum floribundum Peru
Epiphyllum grandilobum Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama
Epiphyllum guatemalense Guatemala, Honduras
Epiphyllum laui2LAU.jpg Epiphyllum laui Kimnach Mexico
Epiphyllum lepidocarpum Costa Rica, Panama
Epiphyllum macropterum
Anandashayanam poov5.JPG Epiphyllum oxypetalum (DC.) Haw. Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico
Epiphyllum phyllanthus in Blüte.jpg Epiphyllum phyllanthus (L.) Haw. Mexico to Venezuela then south to Argentina
Epiphyllum pumilum flower 3.jpg Epiphyllum pumilum Britton & Rose Guatemala, Mexico
Epiphyllum rubrocoronatum Ecuador, Colombia
Epiphyllum thomasianum[4] Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua
Epiphyllum trimetrale

Formerly placed here[edit]


  1. ^ "Genus: Epiphyllum Haw". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-02-13. Archived from the original on 2012-10-11. Retrieved 2011-04-14.
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  3. ^ Anderson, Edward F. (2001), The Cactus Family, Pentland, Oregon: Timber Press, ISBN 978-0-88192-498-5, p. 286
  4. ^ a b "GRIN Species Records of Epiphyllum". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-04-14.[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]