Moonlight Cactus or Night-Blooming Cereus
Aside from its name Night-Blooming Cereus, the alternative names for this plant are:
- Moonlight Cactus
- Queen of the night
- Princess of the night
- Honolulu Queen
- Christ in the Manger
The Night-Blooming Cereus is named because the flowers of this plant only blooms at night. This is a flowering ceroid cacti that belongs in the Cactaceae family. Although this is native of America, especially the tropical and subtropical regions, you can grow them in other places too like the Philippines.
The white flowers of the Night-Blooming Cereus starts to bloom when it is 4-5 years old. The first few years it flowers, there are just a couple of flowers. The number of flowers increases the every flowering season. The flowers bloom around 7 pm and fully blooms by 11 pm or midnight, emitting a very fragrant smell, and then it slowly starts to close so that by 5 or 6 am it is already close.
Notice in the picture above the the flower has a lot of yellow stamens and one long jutting stigma. The flowers grow 4 to 7 inches wide. The flowers do not wither right away. Once it blooms and closes, it stays close and slowly withers as the day goes by. Since this plant is used to the dry and sunny weather, this starts to bloom by April to early June - the summer months here in the Philippines. You can grow this plant indoor or outdoor.
Did you know:
- This plant can take the heat of 100 F (38 C) or higher.
- The fruits of some species of this plant are edible.
- Desert Queen are perfume and skin and body products that were able to mimic the exotic and fragrant scent of the flowers of the Night-Blooming Cereus.
- A lot of authors and poets have made reference to this flower in their poems and novels.
Below are videos of time-lapse of night-blooming cereus. I took the pictures at different time intervals and also different angles.