The Night Blooming Cereus

I’ve been hearing about the night blooming cereus for at least three years now. As the name suggests, this plant from the flowering cactus family, blooms only at night — and only once per year. I was lucky, this time, to be visiting family when their night blooming cereus bloomed on Friday night; luckier still because I had my camera, and it put out not one but four blooms.

Night Blooming Cereus seen from the side

It’s a slow process, this unfolding of the petals, but a lot more fun than watching paint dry. The bud begins its leisurely awakening around 10 pm. But by morning, the flower has wilted. It will come alive again when the special moth it attracts pollinates it.

Two night blooming cereus
Double flower

There I was on Friday night, going out to the back yard every hour or so, camera at the ready, to see how open the flower was. And each time, I’d take a few photos. I wish I’d taken some before photos.

Anyway, I did this about three times. Each time, the flower looked as if it was open just a bit more than the last. Even though they weren’t fully open, the fragrance from the night blooming cereus bathed the backyard in the most subtle perfume that I didn’t mind going again and again. I wish I could have bottled the scent.

Almost fully opened night blooming cereus
Single cereus

The waiting was the hardest. At around midnight, I started to feel tired and decided, reluctantly, to go to sleep. I was a bit disappointed not to be able to see the full flowering of the night blooming cereus but I was happy to have seen it at all, and happier still to be able to take these photos.

Wilted Night Blooming Cereus
Wilted cereus

By morning, the flower looked spent, like someone who’d been partying all night.

Here’s a time lapse video I found on YouTube of the opening of the night blooming cereus.

This week, I’m linking this post to Travel Photo Monday and Tablescraper. Be sure to check out the other photos that are posted there.


9 comments on “The Night Blooming Cereus

  1. Isn’t it amazing that some of the most beautiful flowers last only a day and in this instance only during the night time. It is a gorgeous bloom, thanks for sharing Marcia

  2. Thanks, Cathy. I was curious – I really wanted to see how far it’d open. Plus, I had company. Maybe if I’d been alone, I’d have given up after I took the first set of photos.

  3. It must have felt awesome to witness such a beautiful work of nature and then being able to capture it, store it for later. I wish I could have such opportunities too. Thanks for the lovely share.

  4. This is a gorgeous looking amazing flower. The camera shots truly speak the glory of this flower. Thanks for making your readers aware with a marvel present in the nature.

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