Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Plant Profile - Rhipsalis pilocarpa

 I am doing another plant profile post... I got sidetracked from them for a while, but I'm back... This beauty is Rhipsalis pilocarpa. 

As far as I can tell, it has no common name, other than the pretty much standard rat-tail cactus that most of these long thin Rhipsalis get called.  However, I've always called it mouse tail... the stems aren't as thick as a rats tail, and I don't like rats, and while I'm not terribly fond of mice, I will admit they're cuter than rats... so I call it mouse tail.  Or Mousie for short. 

Also, I'm told that the species is rarely encountered.  Which is rather amusing, as I found it on a clearance rack at Lowe's Hardware  store for $5.00.  I acquired this plant at the same time I acquired the Rik Rak cactus that I wrote about in a previous post.  It hung around, and it paid for itself, as I took some cuttings and rooted them to sell for a couple of bucks each at the flea market. 

About three weeks ago, I brought him in from the porch and placed him in the back breezeway, where he gets light, (not as much as outside, but it's the best I can provide) because there was a frost coming through.  Today, when I went out to check the plants on the bench out there, I noticed this...

Flower Buds! 

Which is cool... the flowers should be about 1/2 inch wide, and will be followed by red fruits.  and this thing is covered with buds. so cool...   

The plant, as I mentioned, is supposed to be rarely encountered in cultivation, and is known to only seven locations in the wild, around Rio de Janeiro and San Paolo.  There are 4 known variations in the cultivated plants, but it isn't known whether these are natural variations tied to their wild locations, in which case they would need to be divided into subspecies, or if these are variations that have shown up in cultivation, in which case they'd have a cv added onto the end of their name.  

It's an easy plant to grow.  Given bright light, say in the shade of the front porch, it has green stems covered with white fuzz... these are kid friendly by the way... they're hairs and not spines.  Given stronger light, the stems will supposedly  turn purplish and the hairs get denser. 

These are jungle cactus, so in the heat of an arid Texas summer, they're watered every couple of days, and every day in the triple digit days of August. 

They like a rich, quick draining soil mix. 
Miracle Grow potting mix with some (undyed) bark mulch mixed in works just fine, or you could come up with your own mix. 

Any stem that gets knocked off will root if put in soil and kept moist... or cut a few stems off and make a little clump in a pot, which  will quickly root and fill out in a couple of months or so.

and that's about it.  I'll post an update of flowers and fruits later...  


  1. Cool looking plant - can't wait to see the blooms.

  2. Well, this is intreguing!!!!! Can't wait to see the flowers!!! Im gonna keep my eyes open at Lowes!

  3. Just bought one from Lowe's and they did not even know what it was or how to care for it...so thank you!