Etymology -The name is derived from the Greek word rhips which means wickerwork and refers to the slender, flexible, reed-like stems.
Rhipsalis are primarily epiphytic -meaning they live in trees, but some are lithophytic -that is growing in the cracks of rocks. This bulk of the species feature cylindrical-pendant stems that branch frequently, however some are flattened or have angled stems. Spines are absent in most or if present, very fine and hair-like. Flowers are among the smallest of cactus flowers if not the smallest and predominantly white; some may have a yellow or red tinge. Fruits on all are spineless except R. pilocarpa and are mostly pea-sized berries. There are just under 40 species and most occur in Brazil. A few are found more widespread in South America up into Central America, the Caribbean, and one species as far as Madagascar and Sri Lanka making Rhipsalis the only member of the Cactus Family that occurs naturally in the "Old World". Although, some feel that this plant may have been carried over by people and therefore not actually a natural occurrence.
Several Rhipsalis are grown commercially and can be found in garden centers while other species are extremely rare. The plants are grown for their lush, green foliage in hanging pots and work well as houseplants in windows due to their lower light requirements.