Cacti Part 10 ~ Queen of the Night (Peniocereus gregii)

This sprawling, stick-like plant cannot stand upright on its own, so it uses the stems of other plants, such as Creosote, for support. In the wild, the dull gray-green stems look like dead sticks and go largely unnoticed even by cactus lovers. The following photograph gives you an idea of just how hard-to-find this cactus can be.

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The bulk of the plant is even harder to see – impossible in normal circumstances – it consists of a large underground tuber which may weigh 70 pounds or more. I saw one of these tubers at a cactus show that was the size of a small watermelon.

Fortunately, our Queen of the Night is not that difficult to find during the month or so after blooming, for, in cactus terms, the fruit is enormous. At its smallest, the brilliant red fruit is larger than a loquat, and large ones look like small, red pears.

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But it is the flower that matters to most of us. Growing laterally from last year’s areoles, these spectacular blossoms open at dusk and close at sunrise. Miss seeing one that night and you will have to wait a year to try again.

Reaching 3 inches in diameter, the white blossoms fill the air with a heady fragrance which does not go unnoticed by its nocturnal neighbors. If you are watching on a moonlit night, you will see moths coming to feed, and where there are moths, there are bats. Spending an evening with one of these blooming beauties is a night you will never forget.

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About aneyefortexas

Retired writer/teacher/photographer, now photographing the Chihuahuan Desert at the Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas.
This entry was posted in Big Bend Ranch State Park, cacti, plant, Plants, Texas. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Cacti Part 10 ~ Queen of the Night (Peniocereus gregii)

  1. I still remember the Peniocereus you showed me in 2012 at BB Ranch State Park, which I took pics of! That cactus is reported from my county in SW NM, but I’ve not seen one west of the Rio Grande except around Tucson. I’m told the hottest period of the year is their bloom time, which in Las Cruces is just before July 4. I need to find someone who knows their secret locations nearby…

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