Rhipsalis pentaptera A Dietrich in Allg. Gartenz. 4: 105. (1836)

R. pentaptera is an easy-to-identify species. It has 5 or 6 deep ribs and grows less pendulously than other species. New stems that grow from the center of the plant tend to arch outward rather than hang pendulously. Successive stem segments arch outward also.

White flowers and pink to white fruit. From Brazil an Paraguay.

Desc from B&R 1923

Plant - branches stiff, bright green, 6 to 15 mm. in dameter, strongly 5 or 6-ribbed, the ribs indented at areoles;
Areoles
-  often 2 cm. apart, small, subtended by broad bracts, usually bearing 2 white bristles;
Flowers
- usually scattered along whole length of branches, opening in daytime, 1 to 4 from an areole;
Scales
-  4 or 5 at base of corolla, broad and obtuse; 
Petals
-  5 reddish on back, cream-colored on face, 4 mm. long, obtuse; 
Stamens
-  numerous, about 25, free from petals, white, about as long as style;
Style
-  and stigma-lobes white;
Ovary
-  truncate, naked;
Fruit
-3 to 4 mm. in diameter, white, naked, or with an occasional small scale. 

Notes from Bradleya 13
DISTRIBUTION. Brazil (S Rio de Janeiro): Atlantic forest at low elevations, but no longer known in the truly wild state.

This unmistakable species, well-known in cultivation, was long thought to emanate from Southern Brazil or Uruguay, but has never been found there. Herbarium studies have revealed only the above cited neotype collection from 1916, whose locality is now part of the great metropolis of Rio de Janeiro. Living material of resumably wild origin has recently been collect­ed from trees in gardens of the present day suburb of Sao Conrado (immediately above the Praia da Gavea) by staff of the Cactario, Jardim Botanico, Rio de Janeiro, where it is being maintained as part of an admirable ex situ conservation effort. This plant is not identical with any of the various forms of R. pentaptera seen in cultivation elsewhere and represents a less prominently winged variant showing a more obvious affinity with the related R. sulcata. 

In its sometimes strongly winged stem-seg­ments and multi-flowered areoles, R. pentaptera at first sight seems to provide a link between Subg. Epallagogonium and the Brazilian members of Subg. Phyllarthrorhipsalis, but its seedlings have multiple-ribbed stems of indeterminate growth and are indistinguishable from those of R. paradoxa, which fact argues strongly for its placement in the former subgenus.

Desc from Hunt 2006.
Branches up to 40x6-15mm, segmented; ribs 5-6, low, thin, compressed, often discontinuous; areoles 2-4cm apart, sometimes with sparse white bristles or hairs; flowers lateral, 1-4 per areole, 7-8 x12mm, white; fruit globose, 3-4mm, translucent white or tinged pink above.

R. pentaptera photos copyright Eddie Huey 2007. Fruit shows ever-present mealy bug that is particularly fond of pentaptera and hard to get rid of on this species.

Above: copyright Ken Friedman

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