Etymology Named after French cactus enthusiast Frederic Schlumberger.
This small genus of epiphytic cacti is well-known world wide as the "Christmas Cactus". Not all species in the genus are considered "Christmas Cactus", however. The true "Christmas Cactus" is actually a hybrid produced in Europe which has been widely propagated through cuttings for at least 150 years - which is Schlumbergera xbuckleyi. More recently however, hybrids of the species S. truncata have been produced on a massive scale commercially and can be found in nearly every "box store" during the months of November and December. These are often sold under the name "Christmas Cactus", but should more properly be referred to as "Thanksgiving Cactus", as they tend to bloom most in late November. Another genus name was used up until the 1950's - Zygocactus for some species which belong to Schlumbergera. As is often the case in cultivation, old names die hard and many nurseries still label the plants as Zygocactus
Stems are either leaf-like segments which grow from end-to-end, or in two species grow similar to Opuntia with more rounded stems segments covered with areoles and small spines. Flowers are showy, tubes with recurved petals and may be radially or bilaterally symmetric. Usually bright read or pink - often bi-colored. Fruits are small berries.
All species are native to Brazil where they grow in trees and are pollinated by birds. The two Opuntia-like species are extremely rare in cultivation and highly sought after. A small rooted plant can easily fetch $40 USD if it can be found for sale.