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Schlumbergera russelliana (W. J. Hooker) Britton & Rose 1913

Christmas cactus

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassCaryophyllidaeCacti, many other succulents, carnivorous plants, and leadworts
OrderCaryophyllalesIncludes cacti, carnations, amaranths, ice plants, and many carnivorous plants
FamilyCactaceaeSucculent (water-storing) plants, often spiny

About plant names...

Christmas cactus, named for blooming in December and January, has been a popular house plant since the 1800s. It is native to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, at elevations of 4593-6890′ (1.4-2.1 km); it is not found in the wild in North America. Extensively cultivated, many varieties exist—those shown here are cultivars.

Identification: Members of Schlumbergera are epiphytes—plants that grow on other plants (such as trees), without harming their hosts. While most cacti have tubular stem segments or "Mickey Mouse" ears, these have flattened segments called cladodes, about ⅜-1½″ (1-3.8 cm) × ¼-¾″ (8-20 mm), and about ⅛″ (3.2 mm) thick. The segments lack true spines, though they usually have two spinelike protrusions on both sides of each segment. They are light to deep green, or burgundy in color. The pink bell-shaped, hanging flowers are about 1¾″ (5 cm) long and 1-1½″ (3-4 cm) in diameter. In cultivated varieties, flowers may be larger, and may be red, magenta, white, salmon, or orange. Fruits are approximately round, and greenish yellow.


Anderson, Edward F., The Cactus Family, Timber Press, 2001, p. 624

Online References:

Rhipsalis, Lepismium, Hatiora, Schlumbergera



Schlumbergera russelliana (Christmas cactus)

4/11/2011 · Susan and Raimond’s, Phoenix, Mary­land

Schlumbergera russelliana (Christmas cactus)

12/3/2011 · Susan and Raimond’s, Phoenix, Mary­land · ≈ 9 × 6″ (22 × 14 cm)

Schlumbergera bridgesii

Schlumbergera × buckleyi

Epiphyllum × buckleyi

Epiphyllum russelianum W. J. Hooker 1839

Phyllocactus russellianus (W. J. Hooker) Salm-Dyck 1845

Schlumbergera epiphylloides Lemaire 1858


Schlumbergera russelliana description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Schlumbergera russelliana (Christmas cactus)

12/3/2011 · Susan and Raimond’s, Phoenix, Mary­land · ≈ 5 × 3½″ (13 × 9.2 cm)

Schlumbergera russelliana (Christmas cactus)

2/25/2012 · Joan’s Flowers · ≈ 12 × 8″ (31 × 20 cm)

Schlumbergera russelliana (Christmas cactus)

4/18/2008 · Falmouth, Maine · ≈ 1½ × 1′ (50 × 33 cm)

Schlumbergera russelliana (Christmas cactus)

12/3/2011 · Susan and Raimond’s, Phoenix, Mary­land · ≈ 9 × 6″ (23 × 15 cm)