STOP AND SMELL THE NIGHT BLOOMING CEREUS

June 1, 2001 – During the past few evenings, the night blooming cereus (Hylocereus trigonus) has been in bloom in Estate Nazareth, which is early for this species. During the next few months, for about three nights each month, this epiphytic cactus erupts in bloom. Each blossom opens shortly after dark and will last only until about 7 a.m. the next morning. Since we see these blooms so rarely, people get quite excited about them.
The night blooming cereus is a vine-like cactus which grows up trees and over rocks and stumps. They grow in the shade or under the hot sun. The three sided stems are divided into one or two-foot lengths, climbing up the tree or rock, with the newest stems reaching out for the sunlight. The flower grows from either the middle or the tip of a new stem division.
Driving along Vessup Lane tonight, the car's headlights catch the luminous flowers. These flowers are huge, about eight inches across and at least as deep. The cup of the flower is filled with hundreds of stamens with one prominent style. In the surrounding darkness, the blossoms have a mystical essence. In the early morning sunlight, the colors of the flowers are soft white and pale green. Bees buzz in and around the flowers. Don't worry about getting stung by the bees, they are too busy with their feast to care about humans.
If you miss the show, don't fret. Next month, you will have a few nights of enjoying the night blooming cereus.
Editor's note: Ellen Higgins has a nursery on St. Thomas. Her particular interest is in plants native to the Virgin Islands. For consultation call 776-1221 or e-mail ehiggins@viaccess.net.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email