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Rhipsalis: Epiphytic cacti

Would you expect to find cacti in the canopy of a tropical rain forest?
Probably not, yet cacti are perfectly suited to an epiphytic lifestyle on the branches of the huge rain forest trees. They’re highly resistant to drought and direct sunlight. More than 100 species of cacti from several different genera flourish in the tropical forest canopy. Like almost all cacti, they’re limited to the Americas. Only the tree- and rock-dwelling genus Rhipsalis has made the leap across the Atlantic, and is found also in Africa, Madagascar, and even Sri Lanka.

Epiphytic cacti don’t look that much like their ground-dwelling relatives. Their typical green, water-storing trunks have often developed into flattened, leafy shapes or long, thin, hanging rods, and most have lost their characteristic spines.



Audio file download
Rhipsalis: Epiphytic cacti (MP3, 383 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Andreas Gröger, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg