Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Orchid Cactus

Great big thanks to Stacy’s cousin Meryl for identifying my rescued plant. It is an Epiphyllum Oxypetalum, a night-blooming Cereus, the "Queen of the Night."

Epiphyllums are true cacti but are more often labeled as "Epicacti" or "jungle cacti" to differentiate them from desert flora. Many plant lovers also call them "orchid cacti" because of the very large and colorful flowers. Epiphyllum species are found in the jungles of Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central & South America.

Jungle cacti are the pinnacle of cacti evolution... having moved into the treetops to exploit that unique environment -- the same one occupied by many orchids. Like orchids, epiphyllums have evolved into epiphytic plants which live on the surface of other plants. Epiphytes take their nourishment from the environment and not from their host plant.

This is more information than you want to know about my rescued plant, but something that made me feel sort of proud, is it is called an orchid cacti. So I was on the right track when it reminded me of an orchid but at the same time it has qualities like a cactus. The picture is what its bloom looks like when it opens at night.

Do you think I should return it to my son when we move or is there someone else that would take it? Wisconsin is not a climate for these plants and I am not sure it would make it inside, but maybe.

Thanks again Meryl.


Sunday, July 20, 2008


What do you think this is? This is the plant I rescued from my son’s yard when he moved into his home. The plant was yellow and brown and really ugly. I took it home and decided it reminded me of an orchid so I repotted it using an orchid medium. I then took the very ugly but now beautifully potted plant and hung it on a tree branch in my front yard and dared the homeowners association to say anything about my ugly plant.

That was 2 years ago, and now the ugly plant has become lovely – it is not quite beautiful but it is not an eyesore. Not only has it become green, it has put on new leaves – lots of new leaves and it has bloomed. I could hardly believe it when I saw the bloom stalk a couple of months ago. I should say there were 2 bloom stalks and a large bud looking thing on each stalk. The bloom never opened – at least not that I saw – and after a week it turned brown and fell to the ground. Then this week, a month later, it produced 2 more blooms.

Here is a picture. Let me know if you can discover what this plant is – I am at a total loss. The leaves are long and leathery. The bloom stalk comes from a notch in the leaves – similar to the way a Christmas cactus blooms, so maybe I am way off base thinking it is an orchid, maybe it is some sort of cactus.
Let me know what you think it is - I am stumped!