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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Caryophyllales

Familia: Cactaceae
Subfamilia: Cactoideae
Tribus: Hylocereeae
Genus: Epiphyllum
Species: E. baueri – E. cartagense – E. chrysocardium – E. grandilobum – E. hookeri – E. laui – E. oxypetalum – E. phyllanthus – E. pumilum – E. thomasianum
Source(s) of checklist:

Korotkova, N. et al. 2021. Epiphyllum in Cactaceae at A global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Dec 22. Reference page.


Epiphyllum Haw., Syn. Pl. Succ. 197. 1812.
Type species: Epiphyllum phyllanthus (L.) Haw.


Phyllocactus Link, Handbuch 2: 10. 1831, nom. superfl.
Type: Epiphyllum phyllanthus (L.) Haw.
Athrophyllum subg. Pyllocactus (Link) Labour., Monogr. Cact. 406. 1853, nom. inval.
Epiphyllum sect. Nocturna G.Don, Gen. Hist. 3: 170. 1834, nom. inval.

Athrophyllum Labour., Monogr. Cact. 406. 1853, p.p. nom. illeg.
Type species: non design.
Cereus [infragen.unranked] Radicantes Salm-Dyck, Cact. Hort. Dyck. 1841: 31. 1841.
Cereus sect. Radicantes (Salm-Dyck) Walp., Rep. Bot. Syst. 2: 278. 1843, p.p.
Type species: non design.
Cereus subg. Alati Salm-Dyck ex DC., Prodr. 3: 469. 1828, p.p., as Alatae.
Type species: non design.
Phyllocereus Miq., Bull. Sc. Phys. et Nat. Brux. 112. 1839, nom. superfl.
Type species: non design.
Marniera Backeb., Cact. Succ. J. (Los Angeles) 22: 153. 1950.
Epiphyllum subg. Marniera (Backeb.) Croizat, Phytologia 28(1): 19. 1974.
Type: Marniera macroptera (Lem.) Backeb.
Chiapasophyllum Doweld in Sukkulenty 4(1-2): 32. 2002.
Type: Chiapasophyllum chrysocardium (Alexander) Doweld

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Mexico to Tropical America
Argentina Northeast, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Cayman Is., Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad-Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela
Introduced into:
Assam, China South-Central, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Florida, Leeward Is., Marquesas, Marshall Is., Pitcairn Is., Puerto Rico, Society Is., Tuamotu, Tubuai Is., Venezuelan Antilles, Vietnam, Windward Is.

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition

Primary references

Haworth, A.H. 1812. Synopsis plantarum succulentarum: cum descriptionibus, synonymis, locis, observationibus anglicanis, culturaque. 334 pp. London: R. Taylor. BHL Reference page. : 197

Additional references

Korotkova, N., Aquino, D., Arias, S., Eggli, U., Franck, A., Gómez-Hinostrosa, C., Guerrero, P.C., Hernández, H.M., Kohlbecker, A., Köhler, M., Luther, K., Majure, L.C., Müller, A., Metzing, D., Nyffeler, R., Sánchez, D., Schlumpberger, B. & Berendsohn, W.G. 2021. Cactaceae at Caryophyllales. org–a dynamic online species-level taxonomic backbone for the family. Willdenowia 51(2): 251–270. DOI: 10.3372/wi.51.51208 Open access Reference page.


Korotkova, N. et al. 2021. Epiphyllum in Cactaceae at A global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Dec 22. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Epiphyllum in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Dec 22. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Epiphyllum. Published online. Accessed: Dec 22 2021. 2021. Epiphyllum. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Dec 22.
Hassler, M. 2021. Epiphyllum. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2021. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Dec 22. Reference page.
Epiphyllum – Taxon details on Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
Index Nominum Genericorum (ING)

Vernacular names
English: Orchid Cacti, Leaf Cacti
español: Orquídea Cacto, Hoja Cacto
suomi: Lehtikaktukset
français: Cactus Orchidée, Cactus à Feuilles
polski: Epifyllum
svenska: Bladkaktussläktet

Epiphyllum (/ˌɛpɪˈfɪləm/;[2] "upon the leaf" in Greek) is a genus of epiphytic plants in the cactus family (Cactaceae), native to Central America and South America. Common names for these species include climbing cacti, orchid cacti and leaf cacti, though the latter also refers to the genus Pereskia.

The stems are broad and flat, 1–5 cm broad, 3–5 mm thick, usually with lobed edges. The flowers are large, 8–16 cm diameter, white through red, with numerous petals. Flowers bloom only at night, and wilt at dawn. The fruit is edible, very similar to the pitaya fruit from the closely related genus Hylocereus, though not so large, being only 3–4 cm long. The broad-leaved epiphyllum (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) is particularly well-known. It bears large, strongly fragrant flowers that each usually open for a single night only.

The plants known as epiphyllum hybrids, epiphyllums or just epis, which are widely grown for their flowers, are artificial hybrids of species within the tribe Hylocereeae, particularly species of Disocactus, Pseudorhipsalis and Selenicereus. In spite of the common name, Epiphyllum species are less often involved as parents of epiphyllum hybrids.[3]

Extant species

As of May 2020, Plants of the World Online accepts 10 species:[4]

Image Scientific name Distribution
Epiphyllum baueri.jpg Epiphyllum baueri Dorsch Colombia, Panama
Epiphyllum cartagense (F.A.C.Weber) Britton & Rose Costa Rica, Panama
Epiphyllum chrysocardium Alexander
Epiphyllum grandilobum (F.A.C.Weber) Britton & Rose Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama
Night queen flower1.JPG Epiphyllum hookeri Haw. Mexico, Central America, Venezuela; introduced to Florida
Epiphyllum laui2LAU.jpg Epiphyllum laui Kimnach Mexico
Anandashayanam poov5.JPG Epiphyllum oxypetalum (DC.) Haw. Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico
Epiphyllum phyllanthus in Blüte.jpg Epiphyllum phyllanthus (L.) Haw. Mexico to Venezuela then south to Argentina
Epiphyllum pumilum flower 3.jpg Epiphyllum pumilum Britton & Rose Guatemala, Mexico
Epiphyllum thomasianum (K.Schum.) Britton & Rose Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua

Formerly placed here

Disocactus crenatus (Lindl.) M.Á.Cruz & S.Arias (as Epiphyllum crenatum (Lindl.) G.Don)
Disocactus phyllanthoides (DC.) Barthlott (as E. phyllanthoides (DC.) Sweet[5])


"Genus: Epiphyllum Haw". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-02-13. Archived from the original on 2012-10-11. Retrieved 2011-04-14.
Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
Anderson, Edward F. (2001), The Cactus Family, Pentland, Oregon: Timber Press, ISBN 978-0-88192-498-5, p. 286
"Epiphyllum Haw". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2020-05-15.
"GRIN Species Records of Epiphyllum". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2011-04-14.

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