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Rhipsalis monacanthum .......... Rhipsalis micrantha ......... Lepismium houlletianum v . regnellii ......... Rhipsalis pilocarpa

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Lepismium ianthothele .................. Epiphyllum sp Tikal ................... Rhipsalis baccifera ................... Epiphyllum X sp


Disocactus biformis ................... Hylocereus undatus






The fruits of epiphyte cacti contain seeds which are used for the sexed reproduction of these plants. The number of seeds per fruit can vary between less than a dozen to several thousands, in particular for the enormous fruit of Hylocereus undatus, the Dragon Fruit.

In the biotope, ripe fruits fall on to the ground, rot, and seeds scatter…. unless the fruits are consumed by fruit-eating animals which reject seeds in their dejections, thus contributing to the plants propagation. This is how the nowadays seriously debated assumption concerning the presence of Rhipsalis in the Old World started (see page : in the biotope): migratory birds are believed to have transported Rhipsalis seeds, from the New World towards the Old World, after they had eaten fruits and these Rhipsalis seeds are said to have thus changed continent in the stomach or the intestine of these birds.

In collection, one can also use seeds to propagate epiphytic cacti, but in the case of hybrids, it’s impossible to obtain plants genetically identical to the plant from which the fruit was collected. And, in the case of a botanical species, it’s hardly any better because a butterfly, or a bee for instance may have carried out unverifiable pollinations between the plants next to each other in the greenhouse, which is sufficient to obtain hybrids from unknown parents.

However, it’s always interesting to collect and sow seeds. So, here is a rather effective method of harvesting seeds. You have to wait until the fruits are ripe, which can be established with the change of their colour or their consistency which becomes a little soft. When I think a fruit is ripe, I pick it and open it. The colour of seeds confirms maturity: the ripe seeds are often blackish-brown. It is then necessary to separate seeds from the fruit pulp : you can spread out pulp and seeds over an absorbing piece of paper which must retain the juice; you then manually collect the seeds which are on the paper. The mixture of seeds and the remainder of the pulp is plunged into slightly tepid water, which still enables to separate seeds from the remainders of the pulp. I then collect seeds in a coffee paper filter while trying to pour in the filter only the seeds and leaving the remainders of the pulp in the water ; I repeat the operation several times, washing the seeds in order to eliminate more and more pulp. Once the seeds are clean i.e. when they are rid of the pulp, I let them dry approximately a day on a blotting paper. Then, I collect the dry seeds and I sow them later like all cacti seeds

You then just have to wait for the growth of the plants which during the first months, will be rather slow; at the beginning, this appears surprising for plants whose growth will be much faster afterwards .....

The disadvantages of genetic modification and slowness explain why I rather propagate epiphytic cacti by cuttings. To me, sowing seems really interesting only in order to create new hybrids. But this is another field which I never experienced personally much.