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Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species is endemic to Mexico, and is distributed in the states of Puebla and Veracruz (Guzmán et al. 2003). It was recently reported from the state of Hidalgo by Ponce-Vargas et al. (2006). The species is found at elevations of 1,500 - 1,850 m asl.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is an epiphyte (and sometimes grows on rocks). The species occurs in cloud forest.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2ac

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Hernández, H.M., Gómez-Hinostrosa, C. & Cházaro, M.

Reviewer/s
Chanson, J.S. & Goettsch, B.K.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is considered Vulnerable due to past and ongoing declines observed over the past three generations (30 years) as a result of deforestation for conversion to coffee plantations, small scale farming and cattle ranching. This epiphytic species is entirely dependent on forest and loss of forest results in direct loss of subpopulations and mature individuals.
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Population

Population
This species is not very common, however it is difficult to distinguish from similar species unless it is in flower so estimates are difficult.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
This epiphytic species is threatened by the loss of forest habitat, which is being converted to coffee plantations, small scale agriculture and cattle ranching. In addition, around villages and towns the species is declining due to over-collecting.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions

The species is legally protected in Mexico by the national list of species at risk of extinction, NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010, where it is listed under category “threatened” (A; SEMARNAT 2010). Research is needed to clarify the taxonomy of this species.

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Wikipedia

Disocactus phyllanthoides

Disocactus phyllanthoides, Nopalxochitl or German Empress, is a species of flowering plant in the cactus family Cactaceae and is commonly grown as an ornamental houseplant. It is one of the three major species involved in creating the widely grown epiphyllum hybrids or "epis". The others are Disocactus speciosus and Epiphyllum crenatum.[citation needed]

Etymology[edit]

Phyllanthoides (lat.) = similar to phyllanthus. This species was among the first flat-stemmed species to be described, and the name recalls that it is similar to the first described flat-stemmed cactus Cactus phyllanthus today - Epiphyllum phyllanthus. Some authors state that this plant first flowered in the garden of Château de Malmaison, belonging to the late Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais. This could explain some of the popular names such as German Empress, Deutsche Kaiserin, Giant Empress, Drottningkaktus (Swedish for Queen's Cactus). This story could be a myth.

Systematics[edit]

A distinct species related to Disocactus ackermannii, D. phyllanthoides has previously been placed in Nopalxochia, but the generic status for that taxon does not have much support. This species, like others of the former Nopalxochia, shows affinity to Webereocereus making the systematics of this group even more complex.

Description[edit]

Stems to 1 m long or more, branching, primary stems to 40 cm long, 6 mm thick, woody and terete at base, flattened at apex; secondary stems flat, lanceolate, acute, margins coarsely crenated or scalloped, obtusely toothed, with terete, stalk-like base, 15–30 cm long, 2,5–5 cm wide; areoles nude except for young growth; epidermis green or reddish, nearly smooth.

Flowers campanulate, funnel-shaped, diurnal and scentless*, 8–10 cm long, 7–9 cm wide, produced on year old branches; pericarpel ovate with a few spreading bracteoles; entire receptacle 2,5–5 cm long, 7–10 mm thick; bracteoles more numerous than on the pericarpel, reflexed, green to blackish purple, naked in their axills; outer tepals lanceolate, opening irregularly before flowering, then spreading widely, rose-pink; inner tepals lanceolate-obtuse, ± erect, pink, paler inside; stamens declinate, as long as the tepals, white; style as long as tepals, white, stigma lobes 5-7. Fruit ellipsoid, 3–4 cm with low ribs, green at first, later red. Seeds dark brown. J. Borg (Cacti, 1951) report it as "sweet-scented".

Origin and habitat[edit]

Known only from cultivation or sometimes naturalized.

History[edit]

This plant probably has been in cultivation since prehistoric times by the Indigenous peoples of South America and Mesoamerica. This cactus was called Nopalxochitl by the Aztecs with explains the former generic name Nopalxochia.

As with many of the early described cacti the history is somewhat unclear. Sims and Edwards state that it was discovered by the celebrated travellers Humboldt and Bonpland in April 1801, near the small village of Turbaco, near Cartagena, Colombia. Reported by Bonpland to have first flowered at Château de Malmaison and at the Botanical Garden of Montpellier, France. However, this species was illustrated much earlier. Both Hernández (1651) and Plukenet (1691) illustrated the species. Said to have come from Colombia, but may have originated in Southern Mexico.

Cultivars and hybrids[edit]

Some cultivar names are in use, but there are no evidence that these differ from the original species - 'Deutsche Kaiserin', 'Empress', 'German Empress'. However, 'Giant Empress' represent a somewhat larger clone with more uniform pink flowers.

Frequently used in hybrids. Together with Disocactus speciosus and Epiphyllum crenatum forming the great trio behind the huge group of Orchid Cacti known today. Other species have been used, but not by far to the same extent as these three.

Cultivation[edit]

Disocactus phyllanthoides is very easily cultivated. The soil should contain plenty of leaf-mould and the plant be given regular water and dozes of fertilizer in summer. Best kept relatively cool and dry in winter, 10–15 °C (50–59 °F). Plants held under proper conditions can produce flowers at least three times a year, but the main flowering period is spring.

References[edit]

  • Anderson, E. F. 2001. The cactus family. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, USA.
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