Monday, October 18, 2010

Queen of the Night

The Night Blooming Cereus has a spectacular bloom larger than a softball when full open. Like most night-blooming plants, that flower is highly fragrant. All the better to attract pollinators in the dark.
I have had my small specimen of Night Blooming Cereus, Epiphyllum oxypetalum, for about three years. A week or more ago I noticed its long, pink flower stalk.
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The long, pink calyces wrapped around the swelling bud like ribbons in a work of modern art. I wish that I would have photographed the various bud stages, as they are almost as beautiful as the bloom.
The long pink petal-like structures on the back of the bloom were wrapped around the unopened bud like ribbons.
On Saturday, I noticed that the bud had become all white and was swollen, looking ready to burst. I move the otherwise unassuming-looking plant from the north side of the house to a more prominent location, where we could catch its brief blossoming.
The long, curved flower stalk is the first indication the plant will put on one of its rare blooms.
Fortunately, we did not have to wait until after midnight for the bud to open and release its intoxicating fragrance, but it was still quite late in the evening. By morning, the blossom had loosely closed and was beginning to wilt. I don't know how long I will have to wait for it to bloom again.
In the photo below you can see some of this epiphytic cactus' flat leaves -- or stems, it's difficult to say with cacti. Epiphytes take their nutrients from the air instead of from their roots. The roots are mainly to hold the plant in place and to take in water.
Epiphyllum oxypetalum is but one of several plants that go by the name Night Blooming Cereus.

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