Friday, July 15, 2011

Queen of the Night

A post by Plantchaser inspired me to post this photos.

Our neighbor-cousin has some of its ornamental plants literally behind our kitchen window. I have long been waiting for this plant to bloom, which the owner said happens at night. I was very glad one weekend when i saw a lot of ready to open flowers. I even did not leave on a Sunday night to wake up at maybe midnight to take its photos. We even left the window open so the scent will reach us, and maybe serve as our alarm! Unfortunately, that Monday morning when i left for work, it still had not opened, the wish to take the photos foregone. The following day, Tuesday, my sister called to say that all the blooms opened Monday night. Can you imagine my chagrin, if only i believed my cousin that it will open Monday night, then i already have the bloom photos. I am annoyed and fully disappointed. It will still be a long wait, it will bloom again next year.

It is called by many common names depending on which country it is grown. Night Queen is just one of them. The Chinese "chengyu" (tan hua yi xian) uses this flower (tan-hua) to describe someone who has an impressive but very brief moment of glory, as a "flash in a pan", since this flower takes a year to bloom and only blooms over a single night (Wikipedia). So when a person is described as that, then he just happened to have a sudden unexpected achievement or he is just considered lucky.  Maybe this flowers rarity in blooming makes it very special. Next year i will not pass the opportunity.

It is an epiphyte cactus, but this one is planted on the ground. The flowers arise from the notch on the leaves. Leaf branches arise on some notch without flowers.



Also linked to  GBBD of May Dreams Gardens


  1. OH NO! That's totally something that would happen to me! One of my epiphyllums started to rot right as it was going to bloom.

  2. Hahaha NSARH, that is worse than my experience. At least i know i will still see the plant next year. I am planning to also plant my own! Thanks for the comment.

  3. Oh! You missed them by one night??!!! I think these look like my dragon fruit flowers. They are beautiful but last only for one night.

  4. Ah---I'm sorry Andrea... Next year (or when it blooms again), set up a video camera which will record it ALL of the time...

    Bet it was gorgeous. Sorry you missed seeing the blooms.


  5. This looks like the Night Blooming Cereus, my late dad's 'goddess of the night' He was really happy whenever our plant bloomed, always at night and usually between 8-10pm. Our flowers lasted only a few hours but it is beautiful and has a nice fragrance. We used a torch light and our whole family watched as the flower slowing opened and it seem to move as it open. We have since lost the plant and I have been searching high and low for this plant but can't find yet :(

    Now, speaking about this, I must go to Floria again and search for this plant!

  6. That is a hard one to take, missing a one time bloomer. I hope its pollinators did not miss it!

  7. Andrea mine bloomed a few nights ago for two nights and I have a few more buds on the plant. I had cut two flowers and placed them in the refrigerator in plastic bags. They remained opened for several days and the perfume was sensational. I just threw them out today.

  8. Hi Andrea,

    Sorry to hear that you missed them by a night, they look awesome when they bloom, they look louts... I'm sure you dont have to wait another year, my neighbor has this plant too and i see these flower bloom very often... I'm yet to photograph them coz them bloom in night and they are gone before the day dawns :( they are known as Brahma Kamala here in India.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your comment. "Stairway to heaven" was shot in Shravanabelagola
    you can view more photo's from this place here, i'm sure you gonna love them

  9. Too bad, Andrea. This plant was very popular but is now hard to find.
    The consolation is, you got to photograph the pretty buds.

  10. Too bad you missed the opening of those lovely flowers. I think this is the flower we called Bunga Bakawali, its supposed to bring good luck to the owner. Your neighbour's plant is so huge with lots of buds. Better luck next time!

  11. aloha andrea,

    these are one of my favorites...too bad they bloom only at night...although they bloom a little earlier here so we can actually see them at the last rays of the sun

  12. OH! What a disappointment! Hope you are much luckier NEXT yer. :)

  13. Oh, that is so sad. I plant Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) every year, and they bloom at night. If I don't go out later in the evening or very early in the morning, I miss the blooms. And they are worth catching...

    I like the suggestion of capturing it on you have it forever! Good luck!

  14. When I saw in my blog's blog lists that you have a new post I thought you'll be talking about the "Dama de Noche" ... LOL.

    Good thing is that there is always another year. But really, one year of waiting? Next time you should listen to your cousin...hehehe

    I agree the buds are interesting enough that they're worth capturing in a picture.

  15. Wow! That is a stunning plant! I like Betsy's idea of setting up a video camera so you don't miss it next year.

  16. It may have a few more blooms again this summer. Mine put on a few blooms at a time, all summer. When I put them under glass for the winter, they usually bloom one last time in October. I had two blooms this week on different nights, not the first blooms of the year.

    You have great photos of the buds. Usually on the night they are to bloom, there is a bit of white showing at the tip of the bud late in the afternoon. A good sized rooted cutting will bloom in 3 years.

  17. There was a similar plant grown in this old building when we bought it 40 years ago... so amazing. I guess I decided I just didn't have the room for such a large plant with such a limited bloom period... Big mistake on my part when considered in retrospect! Larry

  18. I am so glad and inspired with all your comments here. I just decided i will plant it also in our property, for posterity, and who knows...for luck!

    One - when i first saw this plant without the flower, i also thought it is dragon fruit. I am not fascinated as i dont eat that.

    Betsy - that is the best way to do that but i dont have that video nor the camera i saw in a blog, i think it is Tina of In the Garden. Next time i hope it will again be on a weekend, or near it.

    Autumn Belle - i think that is one of its names listed in Wikipedia. I just wonder why other commenters say theirs flower many times in a year, when most literatures say it only flower once, just like the Chinese name as i explained! I wonder if it can be forced to flower, but how?

    Donna - i think it is mostly unpollinated because it very seldom fruits, i haven't seen one yet but a reference says it does.

    London Caller - thanks for dropping by! I hope i will not miss it next year.

    Helen - i wonder why most say it flowers only once, while yours and someone in India says yours have staggered flowering. Do you know what induced them to have that. Thanks for the strategy of putting in ref, that is a good idea.

    Samson - thank you for visiting here. I am amazed why it is only in India where this flowers many times per year. It is a once a year bloomer in all countries except yours. In literatures, it also flowers just once. I wonder if we are talking of the same plant!

  19. Rosie - yes because i am also fascinated i decided to plant it also in a corner of the property. I will connive with my sister to call me if it is about to flower, so i will go home.

    P3chandan - i think that name I read also in Wikipedia as one name of this plant. I decide to plant it for luck, haha! Maybe you will just be lucky if you observe it blooming.

    Noel - oh really, you mean in Hawaii you can watch it before sunset. Now i am really interested to study what induce the flower to open? Maybe it is not the night. You got me deeply thinking.

    EG Wow - thank you for visiting. Next year promise i wont miss it.

    Sage Butterfly - Betsy's suggestion is really the best, especially if i had the video, however that way you will miss the sweet fragrance.

    SR - yes even the buds are interesting, i linked it to Plantchaser because he has the opened flowers. I am planting it this year, i suggest you plant it too. I wonder which of the Dama de Noche and this one has the better scent.

    Shirley - yes, Betsy has the best idea, but i will try my best to see and smell it in person.

    Nell Jean - do you have an idea what induce it to flower several times a year? That really amaze me, and am triggered to study it though i dont have the time and the material. Thanks also for the information, i will plant now hoping after 3 years i can have the blooms.

    Larry - I just saw today at my former landlady's place a plant which is very small with 2 buds, the plants are just mounted on cement walls. So it only grow large when planted in a large area. We can try it both.

  20. Regardless, Andrea, it is a beautiful plant! I love how the outer portion appears to be protecting something within... very delicate looking and great contrasting foliage.

  21. I've never seen this plant before. I love it! Very unusual. And your pictures are so good, Andrea!

  22. Diana- yes the outside protection for the flower hints to a very delicate inside which must be very well protected. This leads me to think again that the flower might really be not only delicate but maybe hiding a special property. Let's search more.

    Tatyana - getting a compliment coming from a very good photographer-writer is very comforting, makes blogging more inspiring. Thank you Tatyana.

  23. Andrea, I am aware that you are having problems linking in to Today's Flowers. I have successfully linked in to their site for you. I think this is a very special flower to post about.

    I have just found out the Scientific name of this flower is Epiphylum oxypetalum. Its common names besides you already mentioned are Sleeping Diction, Lady of the Night, Dutchman's Pipe and Beauty Under The Moon.

    P3Chandan is right. It is called 'Bunga Bakawali' in malay. According to internet info., the flower is supposed to bloom around midnight for about 3 hours only.

    In our climate, we do not know when the plant will start to bud and bloom and it is not a regular or yearly affair. We believe that it is very auspicious to be able to watch/witness the flower bloom. For me, capturing the process on video won't be the same as watching it 'live'. I hope you'll get this chance soon!

    I'm sorry for the late reply as I have been outstation.

  24. What a disappointment for you ! But not to worry, it will bloom again this season. Mine does many times during the monsoon months.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Sorry about the delete above. I messed up in my typing :(
    I'm also very sorry you missed your plant blooming. It is very unusual and fascinating. I wonder what it is in its evolutionary make-up that only allows it to bloom once a year and at night. I have enjoyed this very interesting post. Thanks very much for sharing Andrea and have a great week.

  27. we have the same fate.:p i also missed the blooming of this flower a few years ago. my SIL had this flower and she had been telling the whole family that it would bloom soon. i bloomed on a Friday night, i arrived the next day.:p my 8-year old nephew told me all about it when i arrived.

  28. Someone commented on my blog that she cut a bloom and put it in a zip-loc bag and kept it in the refrigerator. She was ablt to show family and friends what it looked like and the scent held as well.

  29. Andrea, according to Dr. Francis Ng (Secret Garden Consultant Botanist) book, Pg 235, this plant has the habit of "Flowering in response to external stimulus".

    It says that this night-blooming cactus responds in 24-25 days after a sudden drop in temperature e.g. during a tropical afternoon rainstorm. The plant is already armed with flower buds 'on hold' and the buds will respond by bursting into bloom after the sudden temperature change. After blooming, there comes a lull, during which younger flower buds develop to the holding stage, in readiness for the next stimulus. He also quoted other examples like the Dendrobium crumenatum and Rain Lily.

    Hope this info helps.

  30. Thank you very much Autumn Belle, actually that is my suspect, that it is the heavy rains which make them flower. Actually, most of the plants which flowers only once or twice depends on the rain in our climate, just like in yours. So, this plant somehow is like the amaryllis and some bulbs, however these latter plants entered a period of dormancy after their vegetative stage. There is no dormancy reported with cactus, so maybe it is just water and not temperature. Or else, it will flower again in December where sudden drop of temperature is more obvious. I think i need to do some experiments, for curiosity sake. I am very much challenged. Thanks Autumn Belle. I love this exchanges.

  31. Bom - it could be Helen who commented that in your site, she also said that above. Yes that could be done if i am only interested with the scent, however at this point i am challenged to know the reasons why in some areas like India (Samson said so), it blooms many times in a year. Also Neal Jean had 2x flowering when she put it under glass in winter. I am thinking of something, but i need more available plants to carry the experiment out. Unfortunately, my cousin-neighbor only have one. I think i need to plant more in our property and conduct the experiment when i retire, hahaha! I wish there are still bloggers to monitor the results of my curiosity by then.

  32. Plantas diferentes, mas bonitas! As fotos estão ótimas!

  33. I've had it for less than two years and it has bloomed thrice for me already. I was surprised because in my readings it allegedly blooms only once a year.

  34. It still have beautiful form without the bloom. :)
    Love your last shot!

  35. Andrea,

    Can you let me know where to buy the Queen of the Night Plant? I used to have them in my garden and it blooms so well with big flowers. But lost them when I moved house. Have been searching for these plant for so many years. Thank you.



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