Lepismium cruciforme (Hurricane Cactus)

Common Name: “Hurricane Cactus”

Note: I’ve also seen it misnamed as “Rhipsales”.

Scientific Classification:
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cataceae
Sub-Family: Cactoideae
Genus: Lepismium
Species: L. cruciforme

Note: It does resemble Rhipsales, but it is not a Rhipsales. Rhipsales is a closely-related genus of epiphytic cacti.

Native To: Brazil

Growing Specs: Unlike most cacti that grow in dry and arid climates, epiphytic cacti are found growing on trees in Central and South American rainforests.

  • Appearance: Lepismium cruciforme is a type of epiphytic cacti with long, triangular to square-shaped stems. There are white, fuzzy puffs of hair along the areoles. The stem segments are extremely variable in angle and length. They can grow up to 20 inches long and 1 inch wide.
  • Flowering: It will produce red, berry-like seed pods with pink flowers. In full-sun it will become too stressed out, resulting in the whole plant turning magenta.
  • Hardiness: Hardy to about 30 degrees F.

Care Requirements: Since this plant is native to rainforests, it will need significantly more water than most cacti or succulents. It does not thrive in full sun or direct sunlight. On the other hand, it needs enough sunlight in order to bloom, and without enough light, the growth will be stunted. Be sure to give it well-draining soil, but don’t let it dry out too much between waterings.

Check out these tips from World of Succulents on growing Jungle Cacti.

Propagation: Allow leaf cutting to callous over until planting directly in soil.

Toxicity: Non-toxic to pets. Check out my Pet Safety Guide for more information.

Xylem Rising’s Observations: Morning sun with afternoon shade is best. It does need decent light, but it doesn’t want full sun or a lot of heat. Morning sun is less strong than afternoon sun, so try to place it somewhere with Eastern exposure. Since it is from the Southern Hemisphere, its growing period is from fall to spring (instead of spring to fall). When it’s in the prime of its growing period, which is our winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, make sure it isn’t in too much shade. The stems will thin out if they’re not in enough light. If the plant is returned to a more optimum location, the stems will thicken back out. New growth will have a red tone on the ends. It flowers in late winter to early spring. It looks great in a hanging basket!

Don’t tell any of my other plants, but this may be my favorite plant!

IMG_4477

~CRK.

If what you read was helpful, and you never want to miss when I post more species plant care tips, securely sign-up for my e-mail list here.

All photo rights belong to Cristie R. Kiley. Please ask permission before taking.

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