Selenicereus anthonyanus

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Fish bone cactus
Selenicereus anthonyanus.jpg
Photo: Floriano Calcagnile
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Genus: Selenicereus
S. anthonyanus
Binomial name
Selenicereus anthonyanus
(Alexander) D. Hunt

Cryptocereus anthonyanus Alexander (1950) Cact. Succ. Journ. US 22:163-166

Selenicereus anthonyanus (Alexander) D. Hunt (1989) Bradleya 7:93

Selenicereus anthonyanus (also known by its obsolete name, Cryptocereus anthonyanus) is a cactus species native to southern Mexico. It is grown as an ornamental because of its nocturnal flowers and unusual, leaf-like stems. Common names include fishbone cactus, rick rack cactus, zig-zag cactus and St. Anthony's rik-rak, and is sometimes referred to as an orchid cactus.


This species is named for Dr. Harold E. Anthony who first flowered this species in June 1950. The former generic name Cryptocereus (literally, "hidden cereus"[citation needed]) recalls the fact that the species remained long unknown in a region that had been thoroughly investigated.


Mr. Thomas MacDougall found this species in 1946. He thought he had found a close relative to Epiphyllum anguliger. When it flowered in the greenhouses of Dr. Harold E. Anthony in Jersey in 1950 it was obvious that this was a great novelty. The species is rarely collected and most plants in cultivation descend from this first collection.

Origin and habitat[edit]

S. anthonyanus is endemic to moist lowland rainforest of southern Mexico, found in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Tabasco and Veracruz growing at altitudes of 180 metres (590 ft) to 500 metres (1,600 ft).[1]


This is an isolated species with no close allies. Selenicereus chrysocardium seems to be the closest relative. Two other epiphytic cacti from other genera show similar strongly notched flat stems and which, when not in flower, are not readily distinguishable from this species: these are Epiphyllum anguliger and Weberocereus imitans.


An easily cultivated, fast growing epiphyte, S. anthonyanus needs a compost containing plenty of humus and sufficient moisture in summer. Should not be kept under 4 °C (39 °F) in winter. Can be grown in semi–shade or full sun. Extra light in the early spring will stimulate budding. Flowers only open for one night and are very fragrant, as to attract nocturnal pollinators. Flowers in late spring or early summer.


  • 'Corinna Paetz' (S. anthonyanus × 'Feuerauber')
  • ×Disoselenicereus 'Stauch's Mandarin' by Dr. Stauch (Disocactus × smithii × S. anthonyanus)
  • ×Disoselenicereus 'Noris' by R. Gräser (Disocactus speciosus × S. anthonyanus).
  • ×Disoselenicereus 'Wormatia' by Dr. Stauch (Disocactus × smithii × S. anthonyanus).
  • ×Disoselenicereus 'Müllers Mandarin' ('Stauch's Mandarin' × Disocactus speciosus)


Stems scandent or climbing, branches in clusters at intervals along the stem, to 1 m long or more, 7–15 cm wide, flat with few aerial roots; the lobes 25–45 mm long and 10–16 mm wide, somewhat tapered towards the rounded apex; areoles small, near central nerv, spines 3, short; epidermis green to yellowish green, smooth. Flowers 10–12 cm long, (10-) 14-17 (-20) cm in Ø, nocturnal, very fragrant; pericarpal 15–20 mm long, green, bracteoles 1–2 mm long, olive green, their axils with dirty gray wool, grayish-brown bristles and stout, pale brown spines, 1–3 mm long; receptacle 3–4 cm long, 1–5 cm in Ø, terete, bracteoles 3–6 mm long, ovate-lanceolate, the lowermost with wool and bristles, the upper naked, the uppermost 8–10 mm long, madder purple; outer tepals outermost 1–2 cm long, similar to bracteoles, inner 6 cm long, spreading-recurved, lanceolate, madder purple; intermediate tepals 5, lanceolate, acute; inner tepals ca 10, 6 cm, lanceolate-acute, erect-spreading, cream, outermost cream with lower margins madder purple; stamens short, 15 mm long, yellowish; style 6.5–7 cm long, 6 mm thick above the throat, in the throat abruptly contracted to 4 mm thick, cream, stigma lobes 12-14, lanceolate, 16–18 mm long. Fruit ovoid, 6 x 5 cm long, fragrant, areoles 4 mm with spines 1–2 cm, dark green. Seeds 2 x 1.5 mm, black.


  1. ^ Terrazas, T., Arreola, H., Ishiki, M. & Pizaña, J. 2013. Selenicereus anthonyanus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T152753A674371. Downloaded on 01 February 2017.