Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Night Blooming Cereus

We have a fabulous night blooming cereus growing inconspicuously in our wood pile at our Central Tucson home. Most of the year, it looks like a wimpy, half-dead cactus languishing on the ground. Last winter, some javelina chewed up quite a bit of it, and we wondered whether it would survive. The damaged stems grew scabs, and new branches have sprouted out of them.

Maybe the plant is in survival mode, but last night, it put on a show like we'd never seen before.

Forty-five blossoms! WOW! I think the most we have seen on one night prior to this was 23. It smelled like a church filled with Easter lilies. The bats couldn't have missed this extravaganza. Even with our puny human senses, we could smell the feathery blossoms from 20 feet away.
Steve has a theory that the cereus bloom during the full moon. The full moon was actually the day before the big show. When they were fully opened around 9 PM, most of the blossoms were facing the rising moon in the east.

By this morning, the show was over, and the gorgeous blossoms were wilting. What a wonderful world.

Our night blooming cereus keeps blooming all summer, one or two blossoms at a time. Last year there was another big bloom in August. We'll pay attention to whether it is during the full moon.

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