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Christmas Cactus #858938

Asked February 11, 2024, 3:15 PM EST

My Christmas cactus has sprouted regular round cacti along some of the leaves and also has several unusual shaped leaves. I can’t find anything on line to explain.

Ramsey County Minnesota

Expert Response

This looks to be an Easter cactus.  There are slight differences in the leaves among Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti.  For an illustration of the three types, see https://www.extension.iastate.edu/linn/news/it-thanksgiving-christmas-or-easter-cactus
Diane McGann Replied February 11, 2024, 10:20 PM EST


Thanks, nice to know the type of cacti by leaf shape.  However I had a different question. 

If you look closely at the leaves there are roundish “regular” cacti sprouting in with the “regular” flat shaped leaves. There are also a couple of three d triangular leaves on the plant.

What would cause this?  To much/not enough water, sun exposure, just nature having fun?  Just checking to see if it’s something I’ve done. 

Thanks - Carla Abler-Erickson

The Question Asker Replied February 12, 2024, 9:05 PM EST
I reached out to fellow panelists and received this explanation.  Hope it helps:


The triangular stems are probably fasciation, a malformation of stems, flowers, or fruits that is typically aesthetic only and rarely affects the health of the plant. Just a weird plant mutation.
https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/plants_with_abnormal_growths_the_interesting_phenomenon_of_plant_fasciation
As for the more cactus-like growth, this may be caused by seeds from another plant sprouting in the potting media (this seed may have come from a neighboring cactus in the greenhouse). Sometimes I have found several Schlumbergera in an original nursery pot when I go to repot it and this seed may have come in with one of these plants. Or this plant may have been hybridized with another cactus and this growth is from that parent. Hard to say exactly. If this cactus-like growth pulls out of the soil easily, I'd say it is the former.
https://www.schlumbergera.net/hybridization/
Diane McGann Replied February 15, 2024, 12:00 PM EST
Here is another response from a fellow panelist - good information: The "more cactus like growth" is very common on older Christmas or Easter cactus leaves. The leaves gradually age and the cuticle toughens and looks woodier. If one takes cuttings from the coarser looking stems they will put out greener, younger looking growth. My Christmas cactus is about 105-120 years old and it has a similar appearance. It was my Grandmother's.
Diane McGann Replied February 15, 2024, 9:24 PM EST

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