Monday, September 14, 2009

Night Night, Cereus...

Please, please - click on photo/s to enlarge. The structural detail of this flower is deserving of notice!
About six weeks ago, I was shocked to find that my Cereus had bloomed without me! When I noticed two new buds a couple of weeks ago, I was determined not to miss the rather rare phenomenon of a Night Blooming Cereus in all its glory.

Here are the tiny bud stalks which appear right where a vein from the center ends at the edge of the "leaf."

I remembered to go out for the nightly check right around midnight and found the blooms already wide open.

The flowers are showy and quite complex, reminding me of lotus blossoms or water lilies. There are many, many stalks (stamens) tipped with pollen that sweep out of the center - and what appears to be a bloom within the bloom suspended out in front of these. This is the male organ, or pistil. And those who are attracted by the Cereus' lovely perfume must climb past the pistil, and over the stamens. Quite ingenious!!If you look closely at the throat of this bloom, you can see a small brownish thing that looks like a pointed tongue. I thought this another quite amazing feature until I looked inside the other bloom (see below) and there was no brown tongue! It's a little slug! I can't figure out how it managed to find its way up and into there, but then - I probably underestimate its abilities. Just because it's a slug, doesn't mean it's a slouch.

I apologize for the change in viewpoint. Even though I rotated this photo during editing, each time I loaded it here it rotated back. I gave up. Anyhow, you can see the inner structures better in this shot - just turn your head sideways to get the right perspective... (ha).

I moved it, pot and all, out to the plant table in the front lawn so that light from my mercury vapor light would illuminate it some. I thought it would have a better chance of fertilization if moths, etc., could not only scent it, but see it as well. Last time it bloomed during a full moon, but it was overcast and quite dark last night. The scent is so sweet and powerful, my efforts are likely superfluous, but then it is a desert plant and its native insect population would differ. Couldn't hurt!

"Good days are to be gathered like grapes,
to be trodden and bottled into wine
and kept for age
to sip at ease beside the fire.
If the traveler has vintaged well,
he need trouble to wander no longer;
the ruby moments glow in his glass at will."
~Freya Stark
(French adventurer and explorer...1893-1993)


  1. Your bloom and Patrick Swayze's passing, somehow the words of that poem give meaning to both tonight

  2. Stunning! (And yes, I clicked to enlarge.)

  3. How beautiful! Thanks for posting these pictures. Mine didn't bloom this year. I did whack it back early in the spring and expected it to give up the ghost, but nope... handsome AND indestructible as ever. It is however taking a bloom sabbatical and working on growing some green support for next year. Me, too.

  4. Beautiful flower! I did enlarge it and loved it and have never seen one like it fun.

  5. oh wow that is beautiful!

  6. Hi Patrice!
    Long time no visit! Nice to "see" you again!
    I have a huge cereus too. It bloomed insanely this summer...perhaps because for once I gave it some fertilizer... :) I think we had about 25 blooms this summer. One night it was literally so strong a scent in the house that it made me nauseous and light-headed, the kind of feeling of being exposed to paint solvents. Whoa, baby, how powerful!

    Your little photo of the black-and-white (pink) pawpads tugged at my heart. That's just what my sweet Halfie's feet looked like. RIP.