Epiphyllum is a genus of about 15 species of epiphytic plants in the family Cactaceae, native to tropical and subtropical America.
The flowers are impressive in size, color and fragrance. Like all cacti, Epiphyllums have stems, but no leaves. They are often grown in hanging baskets to accommodate their leaf-like stems, but can also be grown in containers. In the wild, Epiphyllum grows between tree branches and into rock crevices. The genus includes one of the most expensive flowers in the world – Epiphyllum oxypetalum, also known as Kadupul or Queen of the Night.
The genus name “Epiphyllum” means “upon the leaves”. It comes from the Greek words “epi”, which means “on” or “upon”, and “phyllon” meaning “leaf”, because early botanists considered that the flower came from a leaf, which are actually stems.
The plant is also known as “Orchid Cactus” because of the flowers which resemble some orchid species.
Epiphyllum symbolizes admiration, patience and good spirits.
Interesting facts about Epiphyllum:
Kadupul (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)
Epiphyllum oxypetalum, also known as Kadupul or Queen of the Night, is considered one of the most expensive flowers in the world, due to its rarity, fragrance and the fact that it doesn’t survive long enough to even be picked.
The flower has an extremely short lifespan. It blooms rarely (usually once a year) and only at night, and then will die by the next morning.
This beautiful and rare flower is popular around the world, especially in Sri Lanka where it is called “Kadupul Mal” or “Flower from the Heaven”.
The Kadupul is of great significance to followers of Buddhism, as it is associated with Nagas (semi-mythical Sri Lankan tribes). It is believed that when the Kadupul blooms, the Nagas descend from heaven to present the flower as a gift to Buddha on the Holy Mountain of Sri Pada.
In China, this flower is a symbol of spectacular, but very short lived moment of glory, since the flower can take a year to bloom and only blooms over a single night.
The Species are Usually Epiphytic
Epiphyllums are epiphytes, which is a classification of plants that grow on other plants and do not necessarily negatively affect the host.
This epiphytic plant grows in the forks of large trees, as it requires the support of a steady surface to lean on. Epiphyllums are not parasites and will not harm the plants they are attached to.
Cactus - Succulents
The flowers are usually white, sometimes with yellow or pink sepals. However, most Epiphyllums grown today are hybrids and may be red, purple, pink, orange and yellow.
Epiphyllum can reach 10 m (30 ft) in height.
Epiphyllum prefers rich and well drained soil. For majority of plants, the ideal soil pH is slightly acidic with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5.