Hatiora is a small genus of epiphytic cacti which belongs to the tribe Rhipsalideae within the subfamily Cactoideae of the Cactaceae. Some Hatiora species are well known and widely cultivated ornamentals, known as Easter cactus or Whitsun Cactus.

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All Hatiora species are found as epiphytes growing on trees or (rarely) lithophytes growing on rocks. They are found in the tropical rainforests of the Mata Atlântica in eastern Brazil. The plants are weakly succulent, growing more or less upright and becoming woody at the base when older. Spines are usually missing. The insect-pollinated flowers are borne terminally. They are small, with a diameter of about 2 cm (0.8 in), actinomorphic (radially symmetrical), bell-shaped and always coloured (yellow, yellow-orange or pink). The fruit is a berry. By contrast with species of the genus Schlumbergera, most of which have flattened stems, Hatiora species have stems with a circular cross-section. [2] [3]

Cacti belonging to the tribe Rhipsalideae are quite distinct in appearance and habit from other cacti, as they grow on trees or rocks as epiphytes or lithophytes. However, for a long time there has been confusion as to how the rhipsalid species should be divided into genera. In 1819, Haworth described the first discovered species of the modern genus Hatiora under the name Rhipsalis salicornioides. In 1834, A.P. de Candolle recognized the distinctness of this species and transferred it to a new genus Hariota, named after Thomas Hariot, a 16th-century botanist. Later a second species, H. gaertneri, was initially named as Epiphyllum russellianum var. gaertneri (Epiphyllum russellianum is now Schlumbergera russelliana) and then in 1889 as Epiphyllum gaertneri. A third species, H. rosea, was described in 1912 as Rhipsalis rosea. [2]

By 1923, many nomenclatural uncertainties and confusion had arisen over the name Hariota. Nathaniel Britton and Joseph Rose created a new name Hatiora as a taxonomic anagram of Hariota. Of the species known at the time, they placed Hariota salicornioides in Hatiora along with H. cylindrica they had already placed H. gaertneri in Schlumbergera in 1913 and left it there and they erected a new genus, Rhipsalidopsis, for H. rosea. Two further species which have been assigned to Hatiora were placed in various genera, including the original Hariota and Rhipsalis. [2] According to Anderson, [2] the confusion among the Rhipsalideae was not clarified until work by Wilhelm Barthlott and Nigel Taylor in 1995, which placed six species in Hatiora, divided between two subgenera. [4]

Phylogenetic studies using DNA have led to a modification of the Barthlott and Taylor classification and the three species of Hatiora they placed in subgenus Rhipsalidopsis have been transferred out of the genus. There is agreement that Hatiora epiphylloides should be placed in Schlumbergera (as Schlumbergera lutea). There is disagreement over the other two species. Some sources also include them in a broadly defined Schlumbergera, [1] [5] others place them as the only two species in the genus Rhipsalidopsis. [6] [3] Hatiora and the most broadly circumscribed Schlumbergera both branch from the tip and have short segments (less than 7 cm long). Hatiora has stems that are round in cross-section and radially symmetrical (actinomorphic) flowers, whereas Schlumbergera has flattened or otherwise angular stems and its flowers may be radially symmetrical or radially unsymmetrical (zygomorphic). [5]

Subgeneric classification and species Edit

In the taxonomic treatments of the genus by Barthlott & Taylor (1995) [4] and Hunt (2006), [7] Hatiora was divided into two subgenera with six accepted species, plus a hybrid created in cultivation. Subgenus Rhipsalidopsis has subsequently been removed from Hatiora. [1] [5] [6] [3]

Caring For Hatiora Salicornioides

Size and Growth

Hatiora can reach up to 20″ inches in height. It’s a compact, bushy little plant.

The contorted foliage resemble coral, as they branch out in several jointed stems.

The foliage is deep green in color.

The growth is also succulent, helping to retain moisture that it obtains through dew and rain, instead of soaking the water from the roots.

Flowering and Fragrance

The flowers may appear at any time during the spring, from March to May. They grow from the tips of the shoots.

The small yellow flowers have no scent and aren’t very showy. They just add a splash of color to the tips of the bushy plant.

Light and Temperature

Outdoor growth isn’t recommended outside of USDA hardiness zones 9 and 10.

The dry southwest, including parts of California, provide bright morning and evening light.

Otherwise, it should be grown indoors in a pot or cactus garden.

The Hatiora grows well at regular room temperature. While the plant likes indirect light and shouldn’t receive direct sunlight when grown indoors.

To encourage Hatiora salicornioides to flower the following spring, keep it in cooler conditions during the winter.

In December and January, avoid letting the room reach about 50° degrees Fahrenheit.

To maintain this temperature, the plant may need to be placed in a covered porch or outdoor greenhouse.

If kept at normal room temperature throughout the winter, the plant won’t die, but it may not flower.

Watering and Feeding

Water the plant regularly throughout the year, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between watering. The plant doesn’t need as much water in

December and January

Fertilizer may be used throughout the year, except during the coldest part of the winter.

Use liquid fertilizer added to the water to feed the plant during watering.

For best results, feed the plant every two to three weeks during the early part of spring and then once per month during the summer.

Soil and Transplanting

The best soil for Hatiora salicornioides is a combination of sand, loam, and peat. The commercial cactus mix is also suitable. It needs to provide optimal drainage to prevent mold growth.

Transplant younger plants every year just before the start of spring.

Older plants may only need repotting every two to three years.

To encourage large growth, always transplant the plant to a larger pot.

Maintenance and Grooming

Grooming shouldn’t be needed, as the plant typically only reaches about 20″ inches. If this is too large, it can be trimmed back in the spring.

The cuttings can also be saved for propagation.


Hatiora salicornioides grows to about 1 m (3 ft) tall with an erect to pendent growth habit. Its stems are composed of segments 1.5–5 cm (0.6–2.0 in) long. Each segment is shaped like a club or bottle, with the narrower end at the base. The stems branch from the end of a segment, with up to six branches forming a whorl. The yellow to orange flowers are borne at the ends of younger stem segments, and are 1–2 cm (0.4–0.8 in) long and about the same across when open. Translucent white berries follow the flowers. [5]

Growth habit in cultivation

The species was first described by Adrian H. Haworth in 1819, as Rhipsalis salicornioides. (Haworth actually spelt the epithet "salicornoides", but subsequent authors have corrected the spelling, treating the original as an orthographic error.) [6] The epithet means "similar to Salicornia". The species was transferred to the genus Hatiora in 1915 (after previously being placed in the confused and hence abandoned genus Hariota). [2] Molecular phylogenetic studies have confirmed its placement in the genus and in the tribe Rhipsalideae, and also shown that it is closely related to H. cylindrica (which has been included in H. salicornioides as a form or variety). H. salicornioides is very variable, and may possibly include other distinct species. [7] [8]

Hatiora salicornioides is found in the east of Brazil, in the regions of Northeast Brazil (Bahia), Southeast Brazil (Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo) and South Brazil (Paraná). [1] [2] It occurs in moist forest, savanna and rocky areas at elevations of 200–1,750 m (660–5,740 ft). It is usually epiphytic or lithophytic. [1]

Hatiora salicornioides is grown as an ornamental plant. It requires some humidity, and is not frost-tolerant. Light shade and a minimum average temperature of 12 °C (54 °F) are recommended. Given these conditions, it has been successfully cultivated outside in Phoenix, Arizona. In climates with lower winter temperatures, it is cultivated in greenhouses or as a house plant. It is propagated by stem cuttings. [4] [9]

In the UK Hatiora salicornioides has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. [10]

Hatiora Species, Dancing Bones Cactus, Drunkard's Dream, Spice Cactus


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From seed stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Casa de Oro-Mount Helix, California

Westmoreland, New Hampshire

Airway Heights, Washington

Gardeners' Notes:

On Aug 10, 2016, AlyceAnn from Hamburg, PA wrote:

I have a Drunkard's Dream plant that I started from a twig when my son was born. My son is now 32 years old. I love this old boy. Flowers every year. I was hoping to be able to post a pic. :)

On Feb 17, 2016, Ddeestone from Milwaukee, WI wrote:

My drunkards dream has really flourished since I started watering it with distilled water rather than tap water.

On May 4, 2015, Mark_B from Garden Grove, CA wrote:

A tough, but pretty plant, well-suited to Southern California (zone 10). Grows faster than most rhipsalis, and thick, too. Does well in 35-40 deg. F. winters. It's a dark green, when you know it's healthy and happy.

On Nov 11, 2009, vossner from East Texas,
United States (Zone 8a) wrote:

Lovely trailer. Very tough too. Easy, not too demanding at all

On Nov 6, 2009, Shrubman88 from Westmoreland, NH (Zone 4b) wrote:

Just received a piece of this plant from a friend, so nice too know
what it is, and how too keep it growing well. Will post a better picture once it takes.

On Feb 19, 2009, mjsponies from DeLand/Deleon Springs, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I've just now found out what this plant was too.
Love it, it's easy, gives me these little pretty yellow blooms twice a year.

On Nov 15, 2006, isom from Mission BC,
Canada (Zone 8b) wrote:

This seems to grow easily with little attention. I find that some plants, such as many succulents, thrive on neglect. I had the tiniest piece I picked up from the plant section of a grocery store. It had broken off & looked a little wilted but I try starting such plants, almost like a challenge to see what will happen.

It's been in the same shallow container as 2 earth stars & a few pieces of burro's tails, also rescues & all have thrived. I had no idea what this plant was so did a search on Google among succulent photos. I never expected my tiny plant to be a Dancing Bone cactus & am glad to know it is! I've now had it for 10 months & it's grown enough to be recognisable as such. As it grows bigger, I'll carefully put it in its own pot. From a tiny piece just over 1/2 inch . read more tall, it's now 4 1/2 inches high & about as wide. As it grows bigger, I'll post a photo of mine.

On Jul 16, 2006, Pashta from Moncks Corner, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

I also recently found out what this plant is, thats to the lovely folks down at the ID forums. :) I bought this plant almost 16 years ago and gave it to my grandmother to fix. It has flourished, and now I am going to take some home with me to NC, where I think it will do very well. It seems hearty, and the cats dont bother to eat it which is another plus. It gets plenty of bright indirect light, and average water for a succulent. Beyond that, its going to be a learning experience. :)

On Mar 11, 2006, spaceman_spiff from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Wow, I'm happy to finally find out the identity* of this plant, after having one for about 10 years. Mine is now blooming for only the 2nd time since I've owned it. However, unlike some of the other posts here, which mention at least certain parts of the plant growing upward, mine strictly hangs downward. I'll add some photos to the photo section.

*Thanks to the Identification forum!

On Jan 9, 2006, docturf from Conway, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have had my Dancing Bones cactus for almost 8 years now. It is in an eight inch clay pot and kept outside in the late spring, summer and early fall -- then it is moved inside for the winter, where it gets only minimal sunlight. It usually blooms twice each year, but only when I let it dry out severely this seems to stimulate flowering. Very little fertilizer is used -- perhaps 2 or 3 times per year with a soluble fertilizer such as Peters or Miracle Grow with high phosphorus. My location is coastal South Carolina.
ps: it is blooming right now (1-9-06).docturf

On Jan 8, 2006, Pinguicula from Sitka, AK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant is great! I received a small plant from a neighbor in Oct and it's already in bloom. I can tell I'm going to be repotting it fairly often though, as fast as it fills it's pot.
My neighbor keeps hers in a sunroom all winter and on her porch all summer. Mine has just been hanging in my windowsill.

On Dec 7, 2004, Homer_Edwina from Hanover, NH wrote:

Positive until recently, that is. I think I might have overwatered it. It bloomed in the summer but then sort of distintegrated and I have some cuttings in a pot now. They are just about hanging in there and maybe I should repot them into a shallower container and mix in some sand?

On Aug 1, 2004, stimmins from Beaconsfield, QC (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have had this plant 3 years now, but it has never 'bloomed' for me. I've only today come across this site and pictures confirming my plant is called a 'drunkard's dream'. It was about 6-8 inches when I first got it and is now approx a foot long in some places. Some of the leaves closer to the base of the pot are 'fatter' in shape and appear to look like what are shown in the site's pictures as blooms, yet they have never bloomed or changed colours. I don't feel it has grown much in the 3 years I've had it, and have tried it in different spots to see what improvements, if any, that might do. It receives mid to bright, but indirect, light. Anyone had ideas as to why it hasn't bloomed.

PS: looking forward to discovering what this site has to offer!

On Sep 18, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

Iґve witnessed this cactus in its original habitat recently, on a humid tropical forest. Itґs really a curious plant. Looks like Rhipsalis (Mistletoe Cactus), but tougher. Too bad I arrived too early there and didnґt see the flowers open, but for what I was told, itґs really beautiful.

On Sep 18, 2003, miseryschild from Monterey, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

When I bought mine, the nursery called a Mistletoe Cactus. It is so weird looking it's cute. Mine hasn't bloomed yet, but is growing great!! It is getting what looks like little white hairs right on it's tips.

On Mar 17, 2003, ideboda from T-village ) - Friesland,
Netherlands (Zone 6a) wrote:

This really is a strong succulent. Without a lot of care for 15 years (from 1984 on), I kept it alive in ordinary potting soil mixed with some sand in a tiny little pot together with another succulent which was much bigger and died after 15 years. (I still don't know why I didn't replant them ever, probably because my windowsill has always been too small.)

When the other plant had died, I replanted my "Dancing Bones Cactus" (never heard this name until today, but very suitable) in a slightly bigger pot and it's about 30 cm tall now, with the main stem growing upward and the others hanging down from the pot.

In the above plant description, propagation is said to be best from seed, but I never saw any seed though it flowers profusely most winters. I got it as . read more a small "cutting" just fallen off at a node like with "Christmas Cactus" (Schlumbergera). This is the most common way to propagate succulents and they're always "true to type".

It doesn't need a lot of water, but once it gets too dry it tends to fall over, the roots are rather shallow, and I must admit the pot is already a bit too small again. I don't have room for a real "tree" which it certainly would become having enough soil to grow in.

Watch the video: Rhipsalis cereuscula - Korallenkaktus, Mistletoe Cactus