Princess-Of-The-Night

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The Princess-Of-The-Night Cactus, Selenicereus pteranthus, is native to  Mexico. This is a tree climbing species that was imported as an ornamental plant and then escaped from cultivation. The host plant for this species is usually a Cabbage Palm.

Dark green stems can easily cover the trunk and branches of its host. Stems are 1” in diameter and have different shapes. It can be round, or have 3, 4, or 5 edges.  Along the edges or ridges are areoles which are clusters of 1 to 3 spines about 1/16th of an inch in length. The spines help hold the stems to the host plant.

The feature of this species is its ornate and fragrant flower which only blooms at night and falls the next morning. It is a very large flower being 10 to 12 inches in diameter. The bloom is made up of whorls of elliptic white or yellow petals each 4 to 5 inches in length. At the center of the bloom is a wide tunnel at least 2 inches in diameter.  Along the edge of the tunnel are hundreds of yellow male stamens which surround a female style that connects to the plant’s ovaries. At the tip of the style is large basket like stigma for catch pollen from moths. A very striking flower.

The specimen in the picture was found in my neighborhood.

Dorothy Rodwell