Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Queen of the Night

Queen of the Night is one of the many common names for night-blooming jungle cacti. I call mine a Night-blooming Cereus but I really don't know if it's a cereus or something else. All I know is the blooms last one night only and give off a strong fragrance designed to attract large moths to pollinate them.

Mine bloomed with three flowers in August and then formed eight more buds in October. I hoped it would wait until I returned from my trip to Ashland. From now on, I'll be careful what I hope for. I came home the night of October 5. The first bud kindly waited to open until the night of October 6. I was too tired to remember to check it that evening, but caught it the next morning. Unfortunately, I was apparently too bleary eyed to realize I didn't have it in focus.

That night two more flowers opened by 10 p.m. I did a little better. By 7:30 the next morning, when I was truly awake, they had already begun to fade.

So I took photos of buds that were looking like they'd open that night. One of them did. It is still dark at 7:30 in the morning and not much light in the jungle room , so I tried using the flash. That worked better.

Why I felt compelled to photograph each bud open, I don't know. But I did. Unfortunately, I didn't get better at it.
Four buds had bloomed with four to go on the day of our cider pressing party, October 9. That night was a very tired night. I knew this bud would open but I only made it to 9 p.m. Awake at 5:30 a.m., I crawled out of bed and took a picture of the fully open flower. The sweet smell was overpowering, especially combined with the fragrance of the Kahili ginger which refuses to quit flowering.

On the morning of October 11, I took this photo of two open flowers. On my calendar, I wrote that the last two buds opened on the night of October 11. I know I saw all eight buds open... sometimes when my eyes were barely open, but I swear I saw them! Apparently, however, I missed taking photos of all eight. Next time, I'd be happy with two flowers that open on a night when I'm not exhausted. This October's flowering became a marathon.

Right now, in my jungle room, all eight spent flowers are hanging and are almost all in view in this photo.

These flowers are spectacularly beautiful when open but it would be nice if they'd stay open longer than one night. They don't look like much when they're through blooming. This one looks about the way I felt after trying to stay awake nightly to watch them. I sure didn't feel like a queen of the night.


  1. Gorgeous - and it looks so huge! How big are the flowers?

  2. When fully open, I'd guess 8 inches across. Next time I'll measure one!