Rhipsalis baccifera ss cleistogama, Kessler, Ibisch & Barthlott

Rhipsalis baccifera ssp. cleistogama M. Kessler, P.L. lbisch & Barthlott Bradleya 18/2000 p22
Rhipsalidi bacciferae ssp. bacciferae primo adspectu habitu simile, sed ab omnibus subspeciebus Rhipsalidis bacciferae floribus cleistogamis et fructibus rubris differt.

Type: Bolivia, Department of La Paz, Prov. A. Iturralde, Rio San Antonio, 46 km de Ixiamas a Alto Madidi, 13°38'S, 68°26'W, 400 m, 17.8.1997, Kessler 11203 (holo. LPB, iso. GOET).

  • Slender, pendulous terete epiphyte which vegetatively is similar to R. baccifera ssp. baccifera.
  • This new subspecies is distinguished from all other subspecies of R. baccifera by its cleistogamous flowers and red fruits. The fruits are smaller than those of R. baccifera ssp. shaferi and almost as long as wide ( 4-5 mm long and wide versus 6-7 mm).
  • Range: Endemic to Bolivia. Distribution in Bolivia: Known only from the type locality in humid lowland rain forest.
  • Altitudinal range: 400 m
  • Epiphytism: Obligatory. ZJ 2 (hanging).
  • Flowers:
  • Fruits develop directly from floral buds which never open Fruits: Small red berries. In cultivated plants in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, fruits were produced from November to February.
  • Conservation value and status in Bolivia: 32+ 16+0+8+4=60; vulnerable.
Notes: Up to now cleistogamy within Rhipsalideae was known only from some polyploid taxa of R. baccifera from Madagascar. In the new subspecies, initially, the floral buds resemble those of other subspecies of R. baccifera with yellowish-green pericarpels longer than the perianth. But the fruits rapidly increase in diameter, with the pericarpels tuming red after a few weeks. Obviously, this taxon is difficult to distinguish in the herbarium.

Only one individual of this form was found at the type locality, where it was immediately distinguishable from the much stouter syntopic R. baccifera ssp. shaferi, which was more common in the area. The forest in this area is severely threatened with destruction, because the old logging road from lxiamas to Alto Madidi was reopened for settlement in 1997, and the first colonists have already moved in.

Use potential: Low.