Difference between a Christmas Cactus and a Thanksgiving Cactus

By: | Updated: Nov-18, 2017
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There are certain types of plants that are closely associated with the holiday season. This is because these plants bloom around the time that the special occasions are celebrated. We’re talking about the Christmas cactus and the Thanksgiving cactus. At first glance, you’ll probably think that they are the same type of plant. But when you examine them closely, you’ll discover that they actually have very distinct features. Continue reading this article to find out about the differences between the Christmas cactus and the Thanksgiving cactus.

Summary Table

Christmas Cactus Thanksgiving Cactus
Its scientific name is Schlumbergera bridgessii Its scientific name is Schlumbergera truncata
Time of bloom is usually December Time of bloom is usually around November
Lobes of leaves are rounded Lobes of leaves are pointed, also looks like bird claws
Even distribution of petals Asymmetrical distribution of petals
Seldom sold commercially Often found in stores and supermarkets


Christmas cactus
Christmas cactus

The Christmas cactus goes by the scientific name of Schlumbergera bridgesii. One interesting fact about this plant is that it has a flat body, and the leaves are, in fact, the plant’s stems. The flowers bloom during the holiday season and appear at the very tip of the stems. Unlike other plants, the flowers of the Christmas cactus are visible for a long time. Colors of the flowers range from the brighter red and purple to lighter white. The flowers usually bloom around December, in colder weather, and requires dark environments to bloom properly.

Distinct features of the Christmas cactus are rounded lobes of leaves and even distribution of petals. This type of plant is seldom sold commercially since the stems easily break and make it difficult to transport.

Thanksgiving cactus
Thanksgiving cactus

The Thanksgiving cactus goes by the scientific name of Schlumbergera truncata. This type of plant has stems (actually their leaves) growing upright then arching. It is interesting to note that the flowers of this cactus grow horizontally from the tip of the stem. The flowers of the Thanksgiving cactus come in a wide range of colors such as magenta, fuchsia, red, pink, lavender, yellow, orange, and white. Time of bloom is usually in November, around Thanksgiving.

Distinct features of the Thanksgiving cactus are pointed lobes of leaves, similar to a bird claw, and the asymmetrical distribution of flower petals. This cactus is often available in stores and supermarkets during the holiday season.

Christmas Cactus vs Thanksgiving Cactus

What is the difference between a Christmas cactus and a Thanksgiving cactus? The scientific name of the Christmas cactus is Schlumbergera bridgesii while the scientific name of the Thanksgiving cactus is Schlumbergera truncata. Both cacti bloom around the holidays, hence the name association. Christmas cactus flowers bloom around December, and Thanksgiving cactus flowers bloom in November. Some distinct features of the Christmas cactus are the rounded lobes of leaves, as well as the even distribution of flower petals. The Thanksgiving cactus, on the other hand, has pointed lobes of leaves (similar to bird claws) and has an asymmetrical distribution of petals (appears to be one-sided). When it comes to commercial availability, the Christmas cactus is seldom found in stores since it is hard to transport, whereas the Thanksgiving cactus is often sold in stores and supermarkets.

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