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Rhipsalis baccifera subsp. horrida

Rhipsalis baccifera subsp. horrida


Succulentopedia

Rhipsalis baccifera subsp. horrida (Mouse Tail Cactus)

Rhipsalis baccifera subsp. horrida (Mouse Tail Cactus) is an epilithic and epiphytic cactus freely branching from the base, later also…


Rhipsalis baccifera subsp. horrida - garden


R. baccifera
(Mexico 36336)
received from Barthlott circa 1978


R. baccifera
(Chiapis, Mex) with
mistletoe growing on it.

R. baccifera (from Angel Plants in Florida.)

The type of R. baccifera is assumed to have come from the Caribbean, whence it was introduced to England by Philip Miller in 1758 (Stearn, l.c.). A more or less contemporary specimen of R. baccifera in the Herbarium of Schreber (b. 1739, d. 1810) is annotated "scum opuntioides H. Kew. Jamaica' (M!).

This complex species requires further and detailed study and the present treatment should be regarded as provisional only. As currently circumscribed it is the most widespread of all cactus species in nature and is divisible into various subspecies.

DISTRIBUTION. Neotropics including the Caribbean (also E Mexico & Florida), Central America and northern South America, southwards to at least Paraiba state, northeastern Brazil (replaced by subsp. shaferi in Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia, and by subsp. hileiabaiana in cent. & E Bahia, Brazil): epilithic and epiphytic, low elevations to at least 1600 m altitude.

R. baccifera (J. Miller) Stearn, trans. nov., Cact J (Croydon) 7: 107 (1939)
Cassyta baccifera J Miller, Illust. Sex. Syst. Linn. class IX. ord. 1 (1771-77), ed. German per Borckhausen, t. 29 (1800).
Rhipsalis Cassutha Gaertner, De Fruct. Sem. Plant. 1. 137, t. 28 (1788) Bot. Mag. 58. t. 3080 (1831) as “R. Cassytha”
Cactus pendulus Swartz, Nov. Gen. Sp. Plant. Prodr. 77 (1788), Fl. Ind. Occid. 2. 876 (1800) Aiton, Hortus Kew. and ed. 3. 178. (1811).
For further synonymy, distribution, etc., see K. Schumann, Gesamtbeschr. Kakt. 621 (1899). Brirtton & Rose, The Cactaceae, 4. 225 (1923).

Johann Sebastian Mueller (1715 – c. 1790), a German draughtsman and engraver who came to London from Nurnberg in 1744 and anglicised his name to John Miller, should not be confused with his contemporary, Philip Miller ( 1691-1771) of the Chelsea Physic Garden, whose works he helped to illustrate. His figure and description of Cassyta baccifera are obviously done from a living plant, almost certainly one cultivated at Chelsea or Kew, and as Gaertner later based his Rhipsalis Cassutha on a specimen sent from Kew by Sir Joseph Banks, the two names may actually have had the same type. Swartz (1800) cited both as synonyms of his Cactus pendulus: there seems no doubt about their belonging to the one species, which, according to Aiton, was introduced into cultivation from the West Indies by Philip Miller in 1758

Info from Bradleya 13. 1995
R. baccifera (J.S. Mueller) Stearn, trans. nov., Cact J (Croydon) 7: 107 (1939) Note the German spelling of the name Miller is used
The type of R. baccifera is assumed to have come from the Caribbean, whence it was intro-duced to England by Philip Miller in 1758 (Stearn, l.c.). A more or less contemporary specimen of R. baccifera in the Herbarium of Schreber (b. 1739, d. 1810) is annotated ‘Viscum opun-tioides H. Kew. Jamaica' (M!).
This complex species requires further and detailed study and the present treatment should be regarded as provisional only. As currently circumscribed it is the most widespread of all cactus species in nature and is divisible into various subspecies.

subsp. baccifera
DISTRIBUTION. Neotropics including the Caribbean (also E Mexico & Florida), Central America and northern South America, southwards to at least Paraiba state, Northeastern Brazil (replaced by R. shaferi in Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia, and by R. hileiabaiana in cent. & E Bahia, Brazil): epilithic and epiphytic, low elevations to at least 1600 m altitude.
Caribbean and Central American populations counted thus far are tetraploid in chromosome number (2n = 44), while South American populations are diploid (2n = 22).

An easy way to tell the various subspecies of Rhipsalis baccifera (From New Cactus Lexicon 2006:


R. baccifera (copyright Ken Friedman, Kew 2006)

Caribbean and Central American populations counted thus far are tetraploid in chromosome number (2n = 44), while South American populations are diploid (2n = 22).

Drawing of cassythoides, considered to belong under ssp baccifera.

Comment. So many species are named R. baccifera that it is almost impossible to tell "an original." Four or five growing in my greenhouse have different vegetation although flowers are similarly inconsequential. If anything, they are large weeds that take up more room than they are worth. Ken Friedman.


Rhipsalis baccifera subsp. horrida - garden

Origin and Habitat: Rhipsalis baccifera is an extremely widespread species widely distributed in tropical America and the Caribbean. It can be found in Anguilla Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Aruba Barbados Belize Bolivia, Plurinational States of Brazil (Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Paraíba, Pernambuco, São Paulo) Colombia Costa Rica Cuba Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador El Salvador French Guiana Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guyana Haiti Honduras Jamaica Madagascar Martinique Mexico (Campeche, Chiapas, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Yucatán) Montserrat Netherlands Antilles Nicaragua Panama Paraguay Peru Puerto Rico Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. United States (Florida – Native). The species also occurs in tropical Africa from the Ivory Coast to Ethiopia and as far south as South Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion and Madagascar. It is also reported from Sri Lanka.
Altitude: It is found at elevations between sea level and 1,700 metres.
Habitat and Ecology: Rhipsalis baccifera is an epiphytic or saxicolous cactus, usualty growing on trunk or branches of large trees, hanging in large clusters in a wide variety of habitats comprising low and medium elevation forests, rain forest, riverine forests and mangrove tidal swamp. It also grows in humus on shady rocks. This is the only cactus species naturally occurring outside the New World. One theory is that it was introduced to the Old World by migratory birds, long enough ago for the Old World populations to be regarded as distinct subspecies. The alternative theory is that the species initially crossed the Atlantic on European ships trading between South America and Africa, after which birds may have spread it more widely. Rhipsalis baccifera is usually abundant where it occurs. The fruits atract birds, that spread the seeds, so the species can reproduce easy and fast, taking over trees in a large area. Given the huge range of this species, it is likely to be affected by a number of minor threats. However, none of these threats is significant enough to warrant any concern.

  • Rhipsalis baccifera (J.S.Muell.) Stearn
    • Cassyta baccifera J.S.Muell.
    • Cassytha baccifera Sol. ex J.S.Mill.
    • Cereus bacciferus (J.S.Muell.) Hemsl.
    • Hariota cassutha (Gaertn.) Lem.
    • Hariota cassytha (Gaertn.) Cels ex Förster
    • Rhipsalis cassutha Gaertn.
    • Rhipsalis cassytha Gaertn.

Accepted name in llifle Database:
Rhipsalis baccifera (J.S.Muell.) Stearn
Cact. Journ. Brit. vii. 107 (1939)
Synonymy: 54

  • Rhipsalis baccifera (J.S.Muell.) Stearn
    • Cassyta baccifera J.S.Muell.
    • Cassytha baccifera Sol. ex J.S.Mill.
    • Cereus bacciferus (J.S.Muell.) Hemsl.
    • Hariota cassutha (Gaertn.) Lem.
    • Hariota cassytha (Gaertn.) Cels ex Förster
    • Rhipsalis cassutha Gaertn.
    • Rhipsalis cassytha Gaertn.
  • Cactus quadrangularis Haw.
  • Cassytha filiformis Mill.
  • Cassytha polysperma W.T.Aiton ex Gaertn.
  • Cereus quadrangularis Pfeiff.
  • Rhipsalis aethiopica Welw.
  • Rhipsalis baccifera subs. rhodocarpa (F.A.C.Weber) Süpplie
    • Rhipsalis cassytha var. rhodocarpa F.A.C.Weber in Bois
  • Rhipsalis baccifera f. zanzibarica (F.A.C.Weber) P.V.Heath
    • Rhipsalis zanzibarica F.A.C.Weber
  • Rhipsalis bartlettii Clover
  • Rhipsalis bermejensis F.Ritter
  • Rhipsalis caripensis (Kunth) F.A.C.Weber ex K.Schum.
    • Cactus caripensis Kunth
    • Cereus caripensis (Kunth) DC.
  • Rhipsalis cassuthopsis Backeb.
  • Rhipsalis cassythoides (Moc. & Sessé ex DC.) Don
    • Cactus cassythoides Moc. & Sessé ex DC.
  • Rhipsalis comorensis F.A.C.Weber
  • Rhipsalis coralloides Rauh
  • Rhipsalis delphinensis Barthlott
  • Rhipsalis dichotoma Don
  • Rhipsalis guineensis A.Chev.
  • Rhipsalis heptagona Rauh & Backeb. in Backeb.
  • Rhipsalis hookeriana Don
  • Rhipsalis hylaea F.Ritter
  • Rhipsalis madagascariensis F.A.C.Weber
  • Rhipsalis madagascariensis var. dasycerca F.A.C.Weber
  • Rhipsalis mauritiana var. ellipticarpa Barthlott
  • Rhipsalis minutiflora K.Schum. in Mart.
  • Rhipsalis neocassutha Y.Itô
  • Rhipsalis parasitica (Lamarck) Haw.
    • Cactus parasiticus Lamarck
    • Cactus parasiticus L.
    • Cereus parasiticus Haw. ex Steud.
    • Hariota parasitica (Lamarck) Kuntze
  • Rhipsalis pendula (Sw.) Link & Otto
    • Cactus pendulus Sw.
  • Rhipsalis pendulina A.Berger
  • Rhipsalis pilosa F.A.C.Weber ex K.Schum.
    • Cactus pilosus Humb. & Bonpl.
  • Rhipsalis quellebambensis H.Johnson ex Backeb.
  • Rhipsalis saxicola Rauh
  • Rhipsalis suarensis F.A.C.Weber in Bois
  • Rhipsalis suareziana F.A.C.Weber
  • Rhipsalis tetragona F.A.C.Weber
  • Rhipsalis undulata Pfeiff.
Accepted name in llifle Database:
Rhipsalis baccifera subs. cleistogama M.Kessler, Ibisch & Barthlott
Bradleya 18: 22 2000

Accepted name in llifle Database:
Rhipsalis baccifera subs. erythrocarpa (K.Schum.) Barthlott
Bradleya 5: 100 1987
Synonymy: 2

  • Rhipsalis baccifera subs. erythrocarpa (K.Schum.) Barthlott
    • Rhipsalis erythrocarpa K.Schum.
Accepted name in llifle Database:
Rhipsalis baccifera subs. fasciculata (Willd.) Süpplie
in Tijdschr. Liefhebb. Cact. Vetpl. Kamerpl., 9(9): 136–137 (1996)
Synonymy: 4
  • Rhipsalis baccifera subs. fasciculata (Willd.) Süpplie
    • Cactus fasciculatus Willd.
    • Hariota fasciculata (Willd.) Kuntze
    • Rhipsalis fasciculata (Willd.) Haw.
Accepted name in llifle Database:
Rhipsalis baccifera subs. fortdauphinensis Süpplie
Brit. Cact. Succ. J. 14(2): 90 (1996), contrary to Art. 37.3 ICBN (1994).

Accepted name in llifle Database:
Rhipsalis baccifera subs. hileiabaiana N.P.Taylor & Barthlott
Bradleya 13: 63 1995
Synonymy: 2

  • Rhipsalis baccifera subs. hileiabaiana N.P.Taylor & Barthlott
    • Rhipsalis hileiabaiana (N.P.Taylor & Barthlott) N.Korotkova & Barthlott
Accepted name in llifle Database:
Rhipsalis baccifera subs. horrida (Baker) Barthlott
Bradleya 5: 100 (1987)
Synonymy: 3
  • Rhipsalis baccifera subs. horrida (Baker) Barthlott
    • Hariota horrida Kuntze
    • Rhipsalis horrida Baker
Accepted name in llifle Database:
Rhipsalis baccifera subs. mauritiana (DC.) Barthlott
Bradleya 5: 100 1987
Synonymy: 3
  • Rhipsalis baccifera subs. mauritiana (DC.) Barthlott
    • Rhipsalis cassytha var. mauritiana DC.
    • Rhipsalis mauritiana (DC.) Barthlott
Accepted name in llifle Database:
Rhipsalis baccifera subs. shaferi (Britton & Rose) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor
Bradleya 13: 64 1995
Synonymy: 2
  • Rhipsalis baccifera subs. shaferi (Britton & Rose) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor
    • Rhipsalis shaferi Britton & Rose

Description: Rhipsalis baccifera (also known as Mistletoe cactus or Spaghetti cactus) is a graceful epiphyte succulent with long thread-like stems and numerous creamy-white flowers followed by mistletoe-like fruits. It forms large hanging clusters, 1 to 4 metres long (occasionally up to 9 meters). Like most cacti it has succulent stems, however in R. baccifera these are weak, slender, narrow and pendent. It shows considerable polymorphism as a result of the existence of lots of geographically isolated populations and can be divided into numerous subspecies: the nominate subspecies, subsp. cleistogama M.Kessler, Ibisch & Barthlott, subsp. erythrocarpa (K.Schum.) Barthlott, subsp. hileiabaiana N.P.Taylor & Barthlott, subsp. horrida Baker) Barthlott, subsp. mauritiana (DC.) Barthlott and subsp. shaferi (Britton & Rose) Bartlott & N.P.Taylor. Additional subspecies have been described in Africa and Madagascar. Rhipsalis baccifera is the species most frequently grown.
Stems: Articulated, of indeterminate growth, very much branched dichotomously, or spirally, growing from tips of other branches, generally in pairs but sometimes in whorls of 6 or 8. The stems are weak and pendent 1-4 (or more) metres long branches when young cylindrical, slender, not dimorphic, terete, sometimes producing aerial roots, 3-6 mm in diameter, light green, joints 10 to 20 cm. long, rarely up to 50 cm.
Areoles: Few dispersed, composite, with only 1-2 (or more) white tiny bristles to 1 m long. These bristly spines tend to disappear as the plant gets older.
Flowers: Borne laterally in winter or spring, solitary, small (5-10 mm in diameter), greenish in bud, sometimes subtended by a single bristle petals 2 mm. long, cream-coloured stamens borne on disk ovary exserted.
Fruit: Naked, spheric, translucent, mistletoe-like, white or flesh-coloured (sometimes red), maturing a few days after flowering, globose, 5-8 mm. in diameter. The fruits are also edible, with a soft sweet taste.

Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Rhipsalis baccifera group

  • Rhipsalis baccifera" href='/Encyclopedia/CACTI/Family/Cactaceae/6426/Rhipsalis_baccifera'> Rhipsalis baccifera (J.S.Muell.) Stearn : (subsp. baccifera) is mostly an epiphyte but at times a lithophyte, both diploid and tetraploid. Distribution: Caribbean, eastern Mexico, Florida, Central America, and northern South America.
  • Rhipsalis baccifera subs. erythrocarpa (K.Schum.) Barthlott : is a tetraploid form. Distribution: it is found only in the mountains of east Africa.
  • Rhipsalis baccifera subs. hileiabaiana N.P.Taylor & Barthlott : is very densely branched. Distribution: Bahia, Brazil.
  • Rhipsalis baccifera subs. horrida (Baker) Barthlott : horrida is a neotenic form both epiphytic and lithophytic and has an aberrant branching pattern it has
    tetraploid and octoploid populations. Distribution: Madagascar.
  • Rhipsalis baccifera subs. mauritiana (DC.) Barthlott : is a tetraploid form. Distribution: Old World, from tropical Africa east to Sri Lanka.
  • Rhipsalis baccifera subs. shaferi" href='/Encyclopedia/CACTI/Family/Cactaceae/27042/Rhipsalis_baccifera_subs._shaferi'> Rhipsalis baccifera subs. shaferi (Britton & Rose) Barthlott & N.P.Taylor : has shorter,stiffer stem segments than subspecies baccifera . Distribution: Paraguay, southern Bolivia, and northern Argentina.

Notes: R. baccifera, the only species of cactus to occur naturally outside the Western Hemisphere, is diploid in South America but tetraploid (2n = 4x = 44) in Central America, the Caribbean, SriLanka, and throughout Africa, and octoploid (2n = 8x - 88) in Madagascar.

Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) N. L. Britton, J. N. Rose: “The Cactaceae. Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family.” Volume 4, The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington 4: 7. 1923 [24 Dec 1923]
2) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
3) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey "The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass" Cambridge University Press, 11/Aug/2011
4) David R Hunt Nigel P Taylor Graham Charles International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
5) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton: “Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names” Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg 2010
6) Clive Innes “Complete Handbook of Cacti and Succulents” Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 01/dic/1981
7) John Borg “Cacti: a gardener's handbook for their identification and cultivation” Blandford P., 1970
8) Brian Lamb “Letts guide to cacti of the world” Letts, 17/ott/1991
9) Sara Oldfield “Cactus and Succulent Plants: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan” IUCN, 01/gen/1997
10) Arreola, H., Hammel, B., Hilton-Taylor, C., Ishiki, M., Loaiza, C., Nassar, J., Oakley, L., Pin, A., Taylor, N.P., Terrazas, T. & Zappi, D. 2013. Rhipsalis baccifera. In: IUCN 2013. “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.” Version 2013.2. . Downloaded on 02 May 2014.
11) Innes C, Wall B. “Cacti, Succulents and Bromeliads.” Cassell & The Royal Horticultural Society. 1995
12) “Rhipsalis baccifera (J.S. Mueller) Stearn” in Cact. J. (Croydon) 7: 107 (1939). Rhipsalis, Lepismium, Hatiora, Schlumbergera. [Consulta: 2006-09-26].
13) Maxwell, Phil. “The Rhipsalis Riddle - or the day the cacti came down from the trees: Part 3”. in: New Zealand Cactus and Succulent Journal, May 1999.
14) J. H. Cota-Sánchez, M. Bomfim-Patricio “Seed morphology, ploidy and the evolutionary history of the epiphytic cactus Rhipsalis baccifera (Cactaceae).” In: Polibotánica. volume 29, 2010
15) Bandoni de Oliveiera et al. “Paleogeography of the South Atlantic: a route for primates and rodents into the New World?” 2009
16) Maxwell, P “The Rhipsalis Riddle.” 1999
17) Nobel, P.S. ed. “Cacti: Biology and Uses.” 1992
18) Cota-Sánchez, J.H & Bomfim-Patrício, M.C. “Seed morphology, polyploidy and the evolutionary history of the epiphytic cactus Rhipsalis baccifera (Cactaceae).” PoliBotanica. 2010
19) Barthlott W., Taylor N. P.“Notes towards a monograph of Rhipsalideae (Cactaceae). Bradleya” 13: 43–79. 1995


Rhipsalis baccifera Photo by: Giuseppe Distefano

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Cultivation and Propagation: Rhipsalis baccifera is among the easiest to cultivate epiphytic cacti and tolerates neglect. These forest cacti tend to be long lived.
Exposure: This plant (as with all Rhipsalis) prefers partial shade.
Watering: It requires ample summer water (more than other cacti), but allow soil to dry slightly between waterings.
Soil: These cacti won't want a normal cactus soil but will prefer to be in a soil largely composed of organic material, such as peat or sphagnum moss, This type of soil would normally be used for orchids, bromeliads or other epiphytic plants.
These forest cacti tend to be long lived.
Hardiness: Frost tender. It needs night-time temperatures no cooler than 5° C, especially in the winter.
Special requirements: These plants bloom profusely if grown in an even, high temperature, but significantly less if the temperature fluctuates between 4°C and 18°C. They drop their buds easily if they are moved. Once flower buds have formed, do not move the plant, as slight changes in environment may cause the buds to drop.
Propagation: Stem cuttings.


Plants→Rhipsalis→Mouse Tail Cactus (Rhipsalis baccifera subsp. horrida)

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit:Cactus/Succulent
Life cycle:Perennial
Sun Requirements:Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
Minimum cold hardiness:Zone 9b -3.9 °C (25 °F) to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
Maximum recommended zone:Zone 10b
Plant Height :24" - 36"
Plant Spread :24" - 36"
Leaves:Evergreen
Flower Color:White
Flower Time:Spring
Late spring or early summer
Propagation: Other methods:Cuttings: Stem
Containers:Needs excellent drainage in pots

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