Monday, September 23, 2013

Bad Hair Day Cactus

 Or to be more specific... Epiphyllum phyllanthus v. guatamalense f. monstose.  Yeah... now try to imagine someone with a very thick southern accent trying to say that.  And, since I couldn't find a common name for it... I have dubbed it the Bad Hair Day cactus, because it was either that or Stripper Hair cactus, and Bad Hair Day cactus just sounded better.  And to make it even more interesting... there's evidently some confusion about Epiphyllum phyllanthus v. guatamalense f. monstose.
You see, evidently there's an Epiphyllum guatamalense already.  That may or may not have anything to do with this plant.  There's also an Epiphyllum phyllanthis v. guatamalense that has straight non-monstrose leaves.  Now the whole purpose of latin botanical names is to avoid confusion.  But there's something about a taxonomist that evidently doesn't want anybody to actually know the name of anything.  Maybe it's because everything has pretty much been named already, so they have to justify their existence by renaming things.  I'm pretty sure that's what happened to Aloe vera.  The entire planet knew Aloe vera.  Worldwide... then TAH DAH... it's suddenly Aloe barbarensis.  I know... there's been entire papers written to justify the change, and the reasons are valid enough.  I'm not saying that the change isn't valid, just that it's annoying, and I'm willing to bet that a large part of it was some botany geek sitting around with a bug up his nose and suddenly deciding to make trouble.  Or that's my opinion.  Not that anybody gives a dang about my opinion. 
And now that I got THAT off my chest, about this plant.  If you read yesterdays post, you know that there's a dealer named Barbara who makes mummified bugs into small sculptures.  That are way cool.  She also brought some plants in to sell.  This was one of them.  She showed it to me, and she had me stumped.  I had never seen that plant before in my life... I knew it was a jungle cacti, but that was it.  She didn't know what it was either.  She'd gotten a 'start' from someone who didn't know what it was, and for all I know that person had gotten a 'start' from someone who didn't know what it was.  Hell, it's distinctly possible that 'starts' from this plant had been handed down for the last century by people who had no idea what they were growing.  Which would really annoy the aforementioned taxonomist.  Well they can just put that in their pipe and smoke it. 
She snipped off 2 cuttings for me, and sent me on my way, with a promise that I would find out what it was.  I knew it was a jungle cactus.  I knew she told me that it bloomed... and this plant had buds...

And I knew that it also produced little pink fruits that were decorative in their own way. 
And that's all I knew.  I went to Cacti Guide (that's a link, or it's on the bottom right of your browser) and didn't have any luck.  At a loss, I sent some pics to the wonderful guys at the Cactus Jungle blog.  I haven't heard back from them... but hopefully when I do, it'll confirm the ID I finally came up with. 
Or not.  I might just give up and start slapping random strangers on the street. 
Finally, I went back to the Cacti Guide and clicked on individual plants... went through all the rhipsallis, which I didn't really expect to find it there, the fruit was wrong, but I was more or less hypnotized by the process by then, before I finally went to Epiphyllums, and after clicking on the phyllanthis there were three pics, and one of them looked like the plant in question.  The other two, however, had long flat leaves.  It did not however mention the v. guatamalense f. monstrose part of the name, so that started another hour of Google searches... and that's how I finally came up with it. I also ended up with a slight headache. 
I also found out that this plant is considered 'fairly rare' although there's some mention of people picking up pots of it at Home Depot, usually with an Exotic Angel tag that reads 'Rhipsallis species' and that there are some vendors out there who sell unrooted cuttings of this plant in the price range of $7 to $9. 
After all of that, I finally determined that the cuttings should be placed well draining moist soil and they would root readily.  Which, lets face it, was what I was gonna do anyway, so it all left me kind of wondering why I had just wasted 2+ hours of my life. 
Oh well. 
Nice to get back to plant posts...


  1. And it's a good one, this plant post. If I had a plant like that I'd probably call it Florida Hair Day. I wonder if the plant juice would work to smooth down the frizz? Or help a headache?

  2. LOL to Walk to Write!!! hehehe. I would definitely grow it if it helped with hair frizz!!! This is a very cool plant. Love that it has little pink tunas ! How sweet. Let us see the open bloom when you get one. Hey, I used to also spend so much time I.D.'ing and it just ended up that I didn't even care at all. Except in ways to care for them, which as a whole, as you said, cactus are all pretty much the same. I think slapping random strangers on the street sounds like fun! I would have to have a film crew follow me though to get it all down for future laughs! LOLOL. (Just kidding, but hey, it's making me laugh just thinking about it).