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.
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.
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.
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.
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.