English name: False Christmas cactus/Thanksgiving cactus
Latin name: Schlumbergera truncata
Family: Cactus - Cactaceae
This cactus grows naturally in tropical forests near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Its succulent stem consists of several strong, flattened segments, with serrated edges. It shoots have fork-shaped branches; there are no leaves. Its large flowers grow up to 7 cm. in diameter at the ends of the shoots. The perianth is red or purplish-red in colour.
A popular potted plant, it has been cultivated since 1816 or 1817, when the first specimen was first brought from the tropical forest to the Kew Gardens in London, England. As it blooms in late autumn, it is popular at this time of year, hence the names “Thanksgiving” and “Christmas”. Grown at home, it usually blooms in December and January. The species has been used to create a series of hybrids, usually through grafting.