Queen of the Night for one night only
Just yesterday I wrote about our Queen of the Night cactus (Cereus hildmannianus subsp. hildmannianus) getting ready to bloom. At that point I wasn’t sure when it would happen. However, when I checked yesterday afternoon, it became clear that the largest bud was going to open up very soon.
What then unfolded within a matter of hours was unlike anything I had ever witnessed. I had seen photos of cereus flowers, but this one was even more beautiful. The fact that this was going to be a one-night performance gave it a bittersweet note.
Here is a chronological photo diary of this special event:
By 8pm, the flower was completely open. It was huge, 7 in. across.
I checked again at 10pm, and the flower looked the same as in the last photo above...
…and it looked that way at 7:25am this morning. I wonder who visited it during the night?
When I checked again at 8:40am (it had warmed up into the mid-60s by then), I finally saw some insect activity: small striped bees that are native to our area, as well as some fat carpenter bees. While the flower didn’t smell all that attractive to me (more vegetal instead of floral), it must have smelled and tasted just fine to the bees.
By 11:00am, the flower had closed completely.
There are three buds left on this cactus segment, and they appear to be equally far along in their development. They may open up tonight, but tomorrow night is more likely.
Many people think that columnar cacti like this one are plain and uninteresting. Yes, they do look unassuming, but when they produce flowers, they outdo just about any other plant out there!