52 Sundays; November 14, 2010

See this?  This is a Thanksgiving cactus.  Which I thought was a Christmas cactus.  And wondered why it was blooming right before Thanksgiving. I didn’t even know there was a Thanksgiving cactus. But I remember my grandmother having a cactus exactly like this one. And it bloomed at Thanksgiving. And my sister-in-law has one.  Hers blooms at Thanksgiving too.  So then I wondered why it was called a Christmas cactus if they always bloomed at Thanksgiving. But I learned something today.

Turns out the Thanksgiving cactus was the first of the species to be discovered and has shorter stem segments than its cousin, the Christmas cactus; but the Thanksgiving cactus blooms earlier, mid to late November, hence the name.  The plant originates in Brazil where it’s known as “Flor-de-Maio” and blooms in May . . . which is the beginning of winter in the Southern Hemisphere; marketers in the Northern Hemisphere decided it would be a good plant to sell during the holidays and is commonly referred to as a Christmas cactus . . . unless you happen to have one like mine . . . which I now know is a Thanksgiving cactus. And to confuse me even more, there is a third cactus called the Easter cactus that blooms in the spring – this particular cactus has leaves which are somewhat spiked in appearance – supposedly making it easier to spot said cacti.

And all these years I thought the cactus was confused . . . turns out it was me  . . . and now you’ll be the life of the party armed with this information . . .


  1. I’m still baffled by how all the plants know “when to bloom.” Do they all have secret meetings together when the rest of us aren’t looking? Regardless of the species, plants that flower once or twice a year in my yard are ALWAYS synchronized with other plants in the neighborhood, across town, and across counties. In the window of about five days.

    Amazing. 🙂

    And your Thanksgiving cactus is beautiful, too.


  2. Absolutely stunning!!

    My mother grew these when I was growing up – we had blooms (on different plants of course!) from about the beginning of November all through Christmas!!

    Hadn’t thought about this in a while… so glad you posted this.. it brought back many happy memories!!

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention RT. Have you ever heard of a Thanksgiving Cactus? It's a first for me. NEW POST on Smith Bites -- Topsy.com

  4. I’m completely cactus illiterate! I never knew there were so many holiday versions. Thanks for sharing.
    BTW-The photos are stunning!

  5. Raise your hand if you’re confused!!! [hand raised]

    Thankfully, you’re pictures are so mesmerizing, you keep me coming back for more.

    Just kidding! I love everything about your blog and I adore your Sunday posts!

  6. Can you repeat all of that one more time? I am a bit off my the game this week! 🙂

  7. What an informative article. I’ve seen these at other places, but never attempted to grow one myself. Hmmm, maybe that might be a fun new year’s resolution!

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