The word Epiphyllum means in Greek "upon-the-leaf." The crosses between Epiphyllums and other cacti are Epiphyllum hybrids (also known as orchid cacti or jungle cacti).
Epiphyllum and related species were discovered in Central and Southern America.
From the botanical species many hybrids have been developed, using one of the true Epiphyllum species as one parent and one of several related cacti as the other. The flowers of the true Epiphyllum species are all white and the species of related genera are of color. Crossing them gives us many various colors.
The earliest records of hybridizing can be traced back to 1830 in England, France and Germany, using Heliocereus speciosus and Nopalxochia phyllanthoides.
In 1840 E. crenatum was introduced and crossed with Selenicereus grandiflorus and Selenicereus pteranthus. These combinations altered the flower characteristics.
Species of genera used in crossing with Epiphyllum were Heliocereus, Nyctocereus, Hylocereus, Echinopsis and Aporocactus.
In the 1920s the early maritime traders brought these strange plants from the New World ports to their plant-minded friends who applied the new art of hybridizing. Hybridizing shifted from Europe to America. Hybrids were then crossed with species to produce even more combinations.
In 1940 the American hybridizers got together and began the Epiphyllum Society of America and began cataloging and requiring hybrids to be registered. A copy of the Epiphyllum Hybrid Directory can be purchased from the Epiphyllum Society of Amercia in Los Angeles.