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Disocactus flagelliformis

Disocactus flagelliformis (Linnaeus) Barthlott 1991

Cactus flagelliformis Linnaeus 1753

Cereus flagelliformis (Linnaeus) P. Miller 1768

Aporocactus flagelliformis (Linnaeus) Lemaire 1860

Cereus leptophis A. P. de Candolle 1828

Aporocactus leptophis (A. P. de Candolle) Britton & Rose 1909

Cereus flagriformis Zuccarini ex Pfeiffer 1837

Aporocactus flagriformis (Zuccarini ex Pfeiffer) Lemaire 1839

Rat Tail Cactus, Flor de Látigo, Floricuerno, Junco, Junquillo, Nopalillo

ParentsUnknownGenus is not in the current taxonomy
GenusDisocactus“Dis” means two: a lower and upper flower
SpeciesflagelliformisA “whip” or “lash”

About plant names...

Rat tail cactus, like other members of the genus Disocactus,[1] is an epiphyte—it is found growing on other plants, in this case trees. Flagelliformis means long, thin, and tapering; whip-shaped. Native to dry forests in Mexico, it is quite rare, and not found in the wild in the US. It is a popular and hardy indoor plant. This is one of the first cacti to be introduced into European culture, around 1690.

Identification: This cactus has long narrow uniformly thick hanging stems, each with 8-13 ribs, up to 3' (1 m) long and ⅜-¾" (1.2-2 cm) in diameter. The needle groups are tiny, almost fuzzy-looking and have 15-20 fine reddish-yellow spines each. Flowers are a beautiful magenta color, upcurved, 1¾-3" (5-8 cm) long and ⅞-1½" (2.5-4 cm) in diameter. Beware though. As my friend Gordon Williamson writes:

The rat tail cactus shows no gratitude for the collector who chooses to domesticate it. In fact one could easily imagine that the plant harbors an enmity to the point of exhibiting a real malevolence towards it’s benefactor. Should you get too close this becomes clear for the rat tail will not suffer being touched. To do so, even lightly, invites the incredibly small spines to lodge themselves painfully in your skin. To make the experience worse, the diminutive size and whitish color of these spines render them almost impossible to remove. Having had this eye opening experience a few times I recommend that these plants be handled only when wearing leather work gloves. I have read a recommendation that the rat tail cactus be repotted with some frequency however I only did this once and will not do so again. Consider yourself warned! The plus side of these cacti are their beautiful flowers. The “rat tails” can grow quite long and when they bloom it truly makes the effort (and suffering) worthwhile. I would also add that irrespective of the rat tail’s dry heritage, the high Mexican forests I believe, they do extremely well in hot humid environs such as southern Louisiana.

Disocactus flagelliformis (Rat Tail Cactus, Flor de Látigo, Floricuerno, Junco, Junquillo, Nopalillo)

By Magnus Björlin.

References:

Anderson, Edward F., The Cactus Family, Timber Press, 2001, p. 223

Online References:

Disocactus flagelliformis on Desert-tropicals.com

Disocactus flagelliformis on Dr. Giuseppe Mazza's PhotoMazza.com site

Disocactus flagelliformis on CactiGuide.com

Disocactus flagelliformis on Wikipedia

Disocactus flagelliformis at Our Cactus Garden

Disocactus flagelliformis at the Oregon Cactus Blog

Disocactus flagelliformis at FossilFlowers.org

1Don't confuse this with the genus Discocactus.

Disocactus flagelliformis description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Disocactus flagelliformis (Rat Tail Cactus, Flor de Látigo, Floricuerno, Junco, Junquillo, Nopalillo)

8/2/2009 · Gordon & Kathy’s, Prospect, ME
≈ 20 × 13" (50 × 33 cm)

Disocactus flagelliformis (Rat Tail Cactus, Flor de Látigo, Floricuerno, Junco, Junquillo, Nopalillo)

8/2/2009 · Gordon & Kathy’s, Prospect, ME
≈ 26 × 17" (65 × 43 cm)

Range:

About this map...