Night-Blooming Cereus (Selenicereus grandiflorus)
The “queen the night” or night blooming cereus are a genus of a vine-like perennial cacti
with elongated, columnar shaped bodies. They grow epiphytically on trees; cabbage palms
seem to be their favorite local hosts, and each plant blooms only one night a year.
The plants themselves are usually thin-stemmed climbers and in daylight hours are really
not that pretty. Any plant of this genius, which blooms at night, of which there are dozens,
can be called this popular name … a night blooming cereus.
At night, when they’re in bloom and showing their transient beauty, the flowers are just
majestic! They can be as large as a foot across. The flowers are almost always white with
large feathery petals with a mass of yellow stamens in the center with a long radiating
stigma. Their awe-inspiring foliage has inspired poetry.
Most of the Boca Grande plants bloom close to midnight and by dawn are wilting shadows
of their former selves. They give off a heady perfume that attracts night pollinators like
moths. The plants bloom many times during the period of May to October and bloom during
all phases of the moon. If pollinated they produce a brightly colored, edible fruit called
dragonfruit or pitaya.
“And so for night we waited, hoping to see the heavy bud break into flower.
On its neck-like tube hooking down from the edge
of the leaf-branch, nearly to the floor ...
It repelled as much as it fascinated me ... ”
– Robert Hayden,1972
“The Night-Blooming Cereus,”