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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. Flowers only bloom at night, and wilt at dawn. 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]

As of May 2020, Plants of the World Online accepts 10 species:[4]

Image Scientific name Distribution
Epiphyllum baueri.jpg Epiphyllum baueri Colombia, Panama
Epiphyllum cartagense Costa Rica, Panama
Epiphyllum chrysocardium
Epiphyllum grandilobum Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama
Night queen flower1.JPG Epiphyllum hookeri Mexico, Central America, Venezuela; introduced to Florida
Epiphyllum laui2LAU.jpg Epiphyllum laui Kimnach Mexico
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 thomasianum Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua

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. ^ "Epiphyllum Haw". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2020-05-15.
  5. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Epiphyllum". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2011-04-14.

External links[edit]