Plant and Garden

The Clumpy Mistletoe Cactus (Rhipsalis mesembryanthemoides) is an Endangered Species?!?

The Clumpy Mistletoe Cactus Rhipsalis mesembryanthemoides. is listed as CRITICALLY ENDANGERED on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because of the lack of mature specimens in their native habitat.

The Rhipsalis genus comprises over 60 species native to South America. The first description of Rhipsaliswas in 1821 by Adrian Hardy Haworth.

Rhipsalisis a genus of epiphytic cacti. They are typically known as Mistletoe cacti and most occur in Brazil. The scientific name derives from the Ancient Greek term for wickerwork, referring to the plants’ habitus.

Rhipsalisis one is part of the tribeRhipsalideaewithin the subfamilyCactoideae&of theCactaceae. It is the largest and most widely distributed genus of epiphytic cacti.


Other names for the Clumpy Mistletoe Cactus are Hariota mesembryanthodes, Rhipsalis mesembryantoides, and Pencil Plant.

The name is given to the plant because it looks remarkably like the plants of the genus Mesembryanthemum, hence the epithetmesembryanthemoides.


This species has a very small extent of occurrence and area of occupancy. Today it is only known to be established in public parks in the greater urban area of Rio de Janeiro. Rhipsalis mesembryanthemoides is potentially extinct in the wild as it no longer occurs in any natural habitat even though it has colonized some urban areas.

The plant forms long, round stems that can grow to more than one and a half inches in length and more than a half inch thick.

These stems are covered in small branchlets with areoles from where the flowers appear in December.


These fruit-bearing plants bear some resemblance to the native mistletoe (Photo to the left), hence the suggested vernacular name.The fruit is small white berries.

The berries are eaten by birds, and in this way, the seeds can fall in the most impossible places.


Clumpy Mistletoe Cactus prefers partial to full shade. Use a gritty, well-drained, slightly acidic soil mix of two parts peat moss and one part sand, with bark chips mixed in to promote soil drainage.

The Clumpy Mistletoe Cactus tolerates neglect. These forest cacti tend to be long-lived.

Like all plants, Clumpy Mistletoe Cactus are susceptible to fungal stem and leaf spots, scale insects, and mealybugs.


Unlike most cactus, the soil of the mistletoe cactus should be moist during its growing season, which occurs from the early spring to late summer.

Never allow standing water on the surface of the soil, but don’t let the soil dry out completely. Instead, let the topsoil dry out between waterings, but not the subsoil.

You can apply a balanced, general-purpose fertilizer every two to four weeks during the plant’s growing season. Follow any instructions or warnings provided by the manufacturer when applying the fertilizer.

It is advised that you cut back on water throughout the fall and winter.

The Clumpy Mistletoe Cactus is dormant at this time, water just enough to keep the plant’s stems from shriveling. This practice promotes healthy blossoming.

Because this plant lives in tropical regions, it enjoys moisture and humidity. Mist your Clumpy Mistletoe Cactus regularly. Click to read our Perfect Solution For Healthy Plant’s recipe.


These plants are found clinging to tree crotches, in branch nooks and nestled in rock crevasses. The Rhipsalis mistletoe cactus is easy to grow and has very minimal needs. It is perfect for the home interior in a northern or western window.

The Clumpy mistletoe cactus, (Rhipsalis mesembryanthemoides), is easily cultivated


If any of the stems are damaged, you can trim them off with a sharp, sterile knife. Use these as cuttings to start new Rhipsalis mistletoe cactus.

This plant can be grown from seed. Seeds take way too long and they require very even environmental conditions. Sow seed in the winter months. Seeds can be started indoors in flats filled with sand and peat. Moisten the medium and plant the seeds 1/4-inch deep. Keep the medium barely moist until the plants germinate.

It is recommended to propagate Clumpy Mistletoe Cacti from cuttings. Take cuttings and let the severed end callus for a few days. Plant the callused end in a cactus mix or sand that has been lightly moistened. Cuttings root in two to six weeks. Grow young plants in semi-shade and water when the surface of the soil is dry.

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