Flower buds appear on the far end of the stems.
Leaflessness. These cacti do not have leaves. Instead they have phylloclades. Phylloclades are modified branches characterized by being flat and the ability to photosynthesize. Although they are not leaves they perform the role of leaves for the plant. Unlike true leaves, phylloclades do not fall (abscise) off with age; instead they turn woody and brownish because a new generation of phylloclades grow from the older ones (just like a lateral branch grow from a more mature branch). In the absence of leaves, plants do not wilt. Prolonged exposure to water stress result in shriveling of the plant which is preceded by observed lightening of the green coloration. Flowers are borne on the apical end of the phylloclades.
Soft serration on the phylloclades: characteristic of the Thanksgiving cactus.
The perianth at opening.
Observations on the Flowers. The petals reflex (bend backwards at an acute angle) further exposing the stamens and the anthers. One peculiar thing that I noticed is that the petals right above the reproductive parts did not reflex upwards. This tendency of the plant could be nature's way to keep the pollens dry - an adaptation mechanism that is necessary for rainforest plants such as the Schlumbergera species.
Picture taken behind the petals to emphasize the perianth tube.
The stigma prior to opening has an ovoid shape...
androecium (male parts) and gynoecium (female part)
The stigma extends past the length of the stamens - opening into a claw-like shape. This is an important feature considering that the flower droops down at opening. In this position the pollens conveniently falls into the sticky stigma - allowing successful pollination.
The stamens are fused to the perianth tube.
When I opened one of the flowers it came to my attention that the stamens are fused to the perianth tube. In the more common flowers (take the rose for example), the petals are not attached to either the androecium not the gynoecium.
Inside the perianth tube.
The flowers are very shimmery.
Schlumbergera, an epiphyte that has a precise sense of timing...
She models her bold and shimmery flowers when her rivals are still asleep.