Etymology -The name is derived from the Greek epi, meaning on or upon, and phyllon meaning leaf because early botanists considered that the flower came from a leaf, which are actually stems.Epiphyllum species are mostly epiphytic and sometimes lithophytic plants of tropical forests. For the most part they are spineless except as tiny seedlings. The stems are sprawling, vine-like plants that hang over tree branches and rocks. The stems are long and flattened and have often been mistakenly called leaves. This misperception is exaggerated in that sometimes the stems will start out with round growth and flatten out on the ends giving the appearance of a long tropical leaf. However, no species in this genus bears leaves.
Flowers of Epiphyllum are white, sometimes with yellow or pink sepals, and they are usually quite fragrant - opening at night and lasting only a matter of hours. The flowers are typically very large and form on the end of a long floral tube which may have a few scales and is smooth. Fruits can be large and juicy and are edible containing black seeds in a sticky pulp.
Epiphyllum in habitat ranges from Mexcio and Central America with some extending into Northern South America and the Caribbean islands. Several species are quite popular in cultivation and are sometimes called "Orchid Cactus". They are used in some "Epi" hybrids to make large colorful fragrant flowers. Color comes from other genera such as "Disocactus".