Ever had a party to celebrate a plant blooming?
Showing off our night-blooming cereus!I remember as a kid in Southeastern Ohio going to a Great Aunt’s house where I joined other family members and neighbors for this event. My Aunt made pies and cakes to serve to all who ventured out late in the evening to witness the large, fragrant blooms? The blooms are as big as a saucer and as deep as a chalice, have immaculate white petals, are as exquisite as a royal wedding gown, emit a heady, fragrance like no other, and they last only one night. This Amazing plant performs this show only once or twice a year. Yes, when a night-blooming cereus blooms, it is indeed time for a party.
There are a variety of plants referred to as “night-blooming cereus.” The one I have is a cactus with gangly, flattened stems that look like leaves. Its botanical name is Epiphyllum oxypetalum. Although a cactus, it is not native to deserts but is found in tropical forests.
This plant has an unusual common name; “Jesus in the Manger” cactus. The reason for this name is that the stamens and pistil of the flower depict the Christmas story. The cluster of stamens in the center is the manger, the clumps of stamens on each side of this are Mary and Joseph, the two stamens at the top are the open arms of an angel, and the star shaped pistil that extends out from the center, represents the star of Bethlehem. Granted, you have to have an imagination to see this, but when you are under the spell of the fragrance and beauty of such a flower, it’s not difficult to let your imagination run wild.