Sunday, April 16, 2017

Wild Brazilian Easter Cactus: Kin to Cultivars and Parent to Hybrids

Summary: Wild Brazilian Easter cactus fits into coastal mountain and, as cultivated hybrids and varieties, indoor and outdoor Northern Hemisphere habitat niches.

cascades of flowering Hatiora gaertneri hybrid, pink-flowered Hatiora x gaestori; June 13, 2005: InAweofGod'sCreation, CC BY ND 2.0, via Flickr

Brazilian Easter cactus appreciates strict light, moisture, nutrient and temperature requirements in coastal southeast Brazil's Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Forest) but astounds holiday plant-lovers with commercially successful, cultivated Easter- and Whitsunday-blooming cactus hybrids.
Wild Brazilian Easter and Whitsunday cactus bears its common name because of its cultivated hybrids' and varieties' spring bloom times in naturalization-friendly, Northern Hemisphere habitat niches. It cooperates with Rose Easter cactus (Hatiora rosea), wild relative in the same three coastal, mountainous southeast Brazilian states, in cultivated hybridization of Hatiora x graeseri. Beloved cultivated hybrids and varieties dominate indoor and outdoor gardens since endemic, wild Brazilian Easter cacti do best in protected areas within their exclusive, three-state homelands.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) enters vulnerability alerts for threatened occurrences at five locations within a 3,861.02- to 5,791.65-square-mile (10,000- to 15,000-square-kilometer) area.

English naturalist Thomas Harriot (1560-July 2, 1621) and German botanist Joseph Gaertner (March 12, 1732-July 14, 1791) furnish wild Brazilian Easter cactus's scientific name Hatiora gaertneri.
Gartner's and Harriot's cactus, described in 1882 by German botanist Eduard August von Regel (Aug. 13, 1815-April 15, 1892), grows branching, chlorophyll-rich, jointed, leafless, overhanging stems. Its dull green, flattened, 1.57- to 2.76-inch- (4- to 7-centimeter-) long, 0.79- to 0.98-inch- (2- to 2.5-centimeter-) wide, photosynthesis-friendly segments, called cladodes, have notched, purple margins. They include bumpy, specialized, white-wooled, yellow-bristled areoles for floral buds and for one to three dark scarlet, funnel-shaped, 1.58- to 1.97-inch- (4- to 5-centimeter-) long flowers.
The wild Brazilian Easter cactus flower joins petals and sepals into a perianth of five erect, inner segments and five, outer, short, spreading, thick, triangular segments.

Wild cactuses, described by German botanist Wilhelm Barthlott in 1987, know October to November blooms at lofty, 1,148.29- to 4,265.09-foot (350- to 1,300 meter), remote altitudes.
Wild flowers, in a radial symmetry called actinomorphism, link angled, dark red, 0.47-inch- (12-millimeter-) long ovaries, cream-colored, linear, six-lobed stigmas and red, 0.59-inch- (1.5-centimeter-) long styles. Unlike wild Brazilian Christmas cacti, they manage just one, not two, series of yellow stamens and never merge petals and sepals into basal, short floral tubes. The starburst-like flowers on the wild rock-dwelling lithophyte or tree-dwelling lithophyte nurture oblong, red, 0.59-inch- (15-millimeter-) long fruits and seeds for gravity, wildlife and wind dispersals.
Clean air, endemic vegetation, open spaces, panoramic views and unique wildlife offer wild Brazilian Easter cactus threats from collectors, eucalyptus plantation developers, small-scale planters and tourists.

Brazilian Easter cactus and rose Easter cactus, described by Swedish botanist Nils Gustaf Lagerheim (Oct. 18, 1860-Jan. 2, 1926) in 1912, produce Easter-blooming, world-renowned cultivated hybrids.
Brown-bristled, purple-segmented, yellow-fruited rose Easter cactus, described by German horticulturalist Wilhelm Barthlott in 1987, queues up rose flowers from 3,280.84- to 6,561.68-foot (1,000- to 2,000-meter) altitudes. The hybridization results in Hatiora x graeseri, described by Erich Werdermann (March 2, 1892-April 20, 1959) and by Reid Venable Moran (June 30, 1916-Jan. 21, 2010). The beloved, commercially successful, world-famous cultivated hybrid, named for German horticulturist Alfred Gräser (1895-1973), shows 1.58- to 2.36-inch- (4- to 6-centimeter-) long, pink to red flowers.
Holiday plant-lovers treasure Easter- and Whitsunday-blooming cultivated hybrids and varieties that tribute the plucky, vulnerable, wild Brazilian Easter cactus threatened by collectors, developers, planters and tourists.

Hatiora gaertneri, known popularly as Easter cactus: Teunie from nl, CC BY SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
cascades of flowering Hatiora gaertneri hybrid, pink-flowered Hatiora graeseri; June 13, 2005: InAweofGod'sCreation, CC BY ND 2.0, via Flickr @
Hatiora gaertneri, known popularly as Easter cactus: Teunie from nl, CC BY SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons @

For further information:
Barthlott, Wilhelm. 1987. "New Names in Rhipsalidinae (Cactaceae)." Bradleya 5: 97-100.
Barthlott, W.; and Taylor, N.P. 1995. "Notes Towards a Monograph of Rhipsalidaeae (Cactaceae)." Bradleya 13: 43-79.
"Hatiora gaertneri - Christmas Cactus." Encyclopedia of Life.
Available @
"Hatiora gaertneri (Regel) Barthlott." Tropicos® > Name Search.
Available @
"Hatiora rosea." Encyclopedia of Life.
Available @
Regel, Eduard. 1884. "Epiphyllum Russellianum Hook. var. Gärtneri." In: Gartenflora. Monatschrift für deutsche und schweizerische Garten und Blumenkunde. Band 33, Erlangen. S. 323-324.
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @
"Schlumbergera gaertneri (Regel) Britton & Rose see Mol Phyl & Evol 58: 456-468. 2011 = H. gaertneri (Regel) Barthlott, syn. nov."
Available @
"Schlumbergera rosea (Lagerh.) Calvente & Zappi, comb nov Mol Phyl & Evol 58: 456-468. 2011 = Rhipsalis rosea Lagerh., Svensk Bot. Tidskr. 6: 777. 1912. Hatiora rosea (Lagerh.) Barthlott, syn. nov."
Available @
Taylor, N.P.; and Zappi, D. 2013. "Hatiora gaertneri." The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T152569A652289.
Available @
Taylor, N.P.; and Zappi, D. 2013. "Hatiora rosea." The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T152766A675994.
Available @

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