“Scales” in reference to the tiny scales the genus has at the level of areoles.
A genus of epiphytic or sometimes epilithic bushy plants, crawling or pendulous, with segments of indefinite size branching in the middle (mesotony) but also at the stem tips (acrotony), which are variable in shape: cylindrical, ribbed, angled, winged or flattened, not tuberculate, with marginal areoles having small scales. Spines small, although often present, little developed.
Flowers diurnal, more or less bell-shaped, appearing laterally, mostly white or creamy-white, also yellow, pink, red to magenta, some delicately perfumed, with a very short or simply absent floral tube, with a pericarpel usually angular, bearing at the base small scales and bristles, pollinated by small insects. Fruits globose to ovoid (a berry like a blackcurrant), naked, brightly coloured, red, purple, black or translucent, non-veined, floral remains persistent. Seeds brown to blackish-brown, ovoid-elongated, shiny, with a micropyle most often apparent. Dispersion of seeds ensured by birds and small primates.
The genus Lepismium grows in low rainforest or subtropical forests, epiphytically on the bark of trees, or on the soil, in the moss, between 300 m and 2050 m in altitude.
Argentina (Buenos Aires, Catamarca, Chaco, Corrientes, Entre Rios, Formosa, Jujuy, Misiones, Salta, Santiago del Estero, Tucuman), Bolivia (Beni, Cochabamba, La Paz, Santa Cruz), Brazil (Bahia, Espirito Santo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Parana, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Sao Paulo), Paraguay (Alto Paraguay, Alto Parana, Amambay, Caazapa, Canindeyu, Central, Guaira, Misiones, Paraguari, San Pedro), Uruguay (Artigas, Cerro Largo, Colonia, Durazno, Maldonado, Rivera, Salto, San Jose, Soriano, Tacuarembo, Treinta y Tres).
Currently 5 recognised species (according to the works of Korotkova, 2011):
– Lepismium cruciforme* (Veil.) Miq. 1838
– Lepismium houlletianum* (Lem.) Barthlott 1987
– Lepismium lorentzianum* (Griseb.) Barthlott 1987
– Lepismium lumbricoides* (Lem.) Barthlott 1987
– Lepismium warmingianum* (K.Schum.) Barthlott 1987